Skip to main content

Full text of "A History Of The Association Psychology"

See other formats



A Hi story- of the 
Association Psychology 



Stuart Professor of Psychology, Princeton University 





THIS study of the Association Psychology was origi- 
nally projected in 1903. After the first six chapters were 
substantially completed the work was laid aside for more 
urgent matters. The material for the remaining chap- 
ters has been gathered from time to time and the whole 
revised within the past year. 

The writer is personally quite sympathetic with the 
Association Psychology. Its defects have always seemed 
attributable to the imperfect knowledge of mental data 
and nervous processes in past generations, rather than 
to the analytic and empirical methods employed by the 
school. The present study, while essentially historical 
in character, aims to bring out the general consistency 
of the Associationist movement and to trace back certain 
recent developments of psychology to their source in the 
writings of this school. 

A sympathetic historian is ever in danger of reading 
into earlier writers the more definite results of later analy- 
sis, or of attributing to them his own views. I have 
endeavored to avoid this by quoting verbatim from the 
writers examined. This puts the reader in a position to 
judge whether the interpretations offered by the historian 
are correct. 

It was originally intended to add a chapter on the criti- 
cisms preferred against the Associationists by their con- 
temporaries. This plan was abandoned on account of 
the length of time required to complete the study. For 
the same reason the French sensation-associationist move- 
ment has been less fully dealt with than was originally 

I wish to acknowledge the assistance of my former 


colleague J. Mark Baldwin, at whose instance the work 
was undertaken, and to whom I am greatly indebted for 
suggestions in outlining the volume. 

Thanks are due to my colleague Edmund Y. Robbins, 
of the Greek department (Princeton), for valuable as- 
sistance in interpreting passages from Aristotle, and to 
my friend John B. Watson (Johns Hopkins) for various 
suggestions. The courtesy of the Psychological Review 
Company is acknowledged for permission to use an arti- 
cle which appeared in the Psychological Review. This 
paper is substantially identical with Chapter II. I am 
also indebted to my office assistants for painstaking aid 
in preparing manuscript and proof. 


October, 1920. 




1. Origin of the Term ' Association of Ideas/ 3. 

2. Definitions of Association, 6. 

3. The Association School and its Rivals, 9. 

4. Philosophical Standpoints of the Association- 

ists, 13. 

5. Outline of the Association Psychology, 15. 

6. Source Books, 18. 


1. Aristotle, 23. 

2. Post-Aristotelian Contributions ; Descartes, 28. 

3. Thomas Hobbes, 33. 

4. Jolin Locke, 36. 

5. George Berkeley, 40, 

6. David Hume, 43. 

7. Other Contributions, 47. 


1. Hartley's General Standpoint, 50. 

2. Hartley's Conception of Association, 53. 

3. Hartley's Applications of the Principle, 57. 

4. Deficiencies in Hartley's System, 63. 

5. Other XVIIIth Century Associationists, 64. 

6. Thomas Brown's Standpoint, 70. 

7. Brown's Laws of Suggestion, 72. 

8. Brown's Analysis of Mental Phenomena, 74. 

9. Brown's Theory of Relative Suggestion, 77. 


1. James Mill, 81, 

2. James Mill's Conception of Association, 84. 

3. J. Mill's Analysis of Cognitive Phenomena, 89, 

4. J. Mill : Motor and Affective Phenomena, 93. 

5. John Stuart Mill's Law of Association, 95. 

6. J. S. Mill's Analysis of Belief, 100. 

7. Alexander Bain's Conception of Association, 104* 




8. Bain's Derivation of Mental Phenomena, 109. 

9. Culmination of Pure Associationism, 115. 

T. The Evolution Concept in Psychology, 118. 

2. Herbert Spencer's Psychological Standpoint, 121. 

3. Spencer's Interpretation of Association, 124. 

4. Derivation of Higher Mental States, 130. 

5. Spencer's Relation to Earlier Writers, 133. 

6. The Psychology of G. H. Lewes, 137. 

7. Association and Logical Grouping, 140. 

8. Lewes's Analysis of Mental Phenomena, 146. 

9. Lewes's Contributions to the Problem, 150. 
TO. Other XlXth Century Associationists, 152. 


1. Development of the Association Concept from 

Hobbes to Hume, 154. 

2. Contributions of Hartley and Brown, 157. 

3. The Two Mills and Bain, 163. 

4. Spencer and Lewes, 168. 

5. Estimate of English Associationism, 175. 


1. French Associationism; Condillac, 181. 

2. Bonnet and Helvetius, 186. 

3. The Ideologists, 191. 

4. Later French Associationism, 194. 

5. Italian Contributions, 200. 

6. German Contributions, 203. 

7. Herbart and Beneke, 205. 

8. Transition to the Experimental Movement, 210. 


1. Beginnings of Experimental Investigation, 213. 

2. Effects of Repetition and Lapse of Time, 217. 

3. Reaction Time of Association, 222. 

4. Association and Apperception, 223. 

5. Mediate Association, 225. 

6. Association Tests and Mental Diagnosis, 229. 

7. Miscellaneous Investigations, 235. 

8. Laws of Association : Similarity and Contiguity. 


9. Classifications of Association, 247. 




1. The Nature of Association, 258. 

2. Role of the Nervous System, 266. 

3. The Modes of Association, 273. 

4. The Laws of Association, 282. 

5- Typical Interpretation of the Associative Proc- 
ess, 287. 



1. Fundamental Concepts, 291. 

2. Cognitive Experiences, 295. 

3. Conation, 299. 

4. Affective Consciousness, 303. 

5. Completion of the Analysis, 305. 


INDEX 321 

CHRONOLOGICAL CHART (at end of volume). 




1. Origin of the Term ' Association of Ideas * 

THE phrase association of ideas was first used by 
John Locke. 1 In the fourth edition (1700) of his ' Essay 
concerning Human Understanding J he inserted a new 
chapter, entitled " Of the Association of Ideas/' 2 in 
which he discusses the connections between experiences. 

" Some of our ideas," he says, " have a natural corre- 
spondence and connection with one another: it is the 
office and excellency of our reason to trace these and hold 
them together in that union and correspondence which 
is founded in their peculiar beings. Besides this, there is 
another connection of ideas wholly owing to chance or 
custom. Ideas that in themselves are not at all of kin 
come to be so united in some men's minds that it is very 
hard to separate them; they always keep in company, 
and the one no sooner at any time comes into the under- 
standing, but its associate appears with it; and if they 
are more than two which are thus united, the whole gang, 
always inseparable, show themselves together. This 
strong combination of ideas not allied by nature the mind 
makes in itself either voluntarily or by chance, and hence 
it comes in different men to be very different, according 
to their different inclinations, education, interests, etc." s 

1 Marin Cureau de La Chambre in his work, ' Systeme de Tame/ 
published in 1664, speaks of " 1' union et la liaison des images " as an 
integrant action in our knowledge (Hamilton, ed. of Reid's 
'Works/ Note D**). 

2 Bk. II, ch. 33- 

8 5, 6. In quoting earlier English writers spelling, italics, 
capitalization, and punctuation are altered to conform with present- 



We are thus indebted to Locke for a term which later 
gained currency as applied to a doctrine of peculiar 
prominence in English psychology; of such prominence, 
indeed, that the system of psychology which these writers 
worked out came to be known as Associationism. Fur- 
thermore, the exposition of mental association in various 
parts of Locke's * Essay' furnished important data to 
the theory subsequently developed. But it should be noted 
at the outset that the epoch-making character of Locke's 
work in this field consists only in his introduction of the 
term f association of ideas.' He neither founded the doc- 
trine of association nor did he fix the historical signifi- 
cation of the name which he coined. 

First, the laws of the association of remembered images 
according to similarity, contrast, and contiguity were 
originally formulated by Aristotle, who furnished hints of 
an association of sensations as well. These suggestions 
long escaped notice owing to the lack of interest in such 
problems. In modern times also, the notion of an asso- 
ciated sequence of thought was worked out in some detail, 
prior to Locke, by Thomas Hobbes, and his treatment 
furnished the model for later discussions of the subject. 
Locke emphasizes the fact, but does not work out the 
manner of association. This latter problem, one of the 
most notable features of the association psychology, rests 
historically on Aristotle's classification, which has been 
taken up and modified in various ways by writers of the 
association school; Hobbes's view of association as the 
mode of succession of ideational experiences is generally 
adopted as a starting-point in the analysis. * * 

Again, the term idea was used by Locke in a broader 

day usage. Citations are by chapter and section so far as practica- 
ble, rather than by page, in order to make any edition available. 
Names of authors and titles of works are given in full when first 
mentioned, and the edition consulted is referred to at the first 
definite citation. Where foreign writers are quoted the original 
text is not given unless the terminology or some vital point is open 
to question. 


sense than that fixed by later usage. Thus, when Locke 
speaks of the association of ideas he has reference to pos- 
sible connections between all sorts of mental content; 
whereas from the time of David Hume onward the phrase 
refers to connections between representative data only. 
Locke's term has been retained, but its application is nar- 
rowed to a portion of the field to which he 'assigned it. 
This permanent fixing of the expression association of 
ideas with an altered meaning given to the term idea, 
has exerted some influence on the development of the 
doctrine itself. The connection between sensations, as for 
example in perception, has been ignored by some writers, 
while others have treated it as another sort of union, dis- 
tinct from association. Where the union of sensations 
has been classed under the same general principles as 
associations between representative elements, the expo- 
sition has been weakened by the inappropriateness of the 
accepted phrase. 

Finally, it should be borne in mind that the problem 
of association as Locke conceived it was an ethical and 
pedagogical one, not a problem of psychological analysis. 
He nowhere seeks to determine the different modes of con- 
nection between experiences as Hobbes has done. His 
real aim is to trace the rise of wrong associations and 
suggest practical remedies for the errors of judgment and 
action to which they lead. In the passage quoted Locke 
grants that a natural connection between ideas exists as 
well as chance association; but it is the associations of 
chance or custom, their origin, and the means of pre- 
venting and overcoming them, that constitute the mate- 
rial of his inquiry. The chapter on association was an 
afterthought, not an essential part of the ' Essay'; and 
although in harmony with the doctrine formulated in the 
test of his book, it appears more in the light of a practical 
application of his theory that an investigation of the 
laws of association* 


In short, while the * Essay concerning Human Under- 
standing ' furnished the name under which the principle 
has since become known, and has also afforded consider- 
able material to assist later writers in developing the psy- 
chology of association, the two contributions stand apart: 
Locke's association doctrine is not worked out from the 
psychological standpoint, and it is not definitely attached 
to the phrase which he devised. The aim of his ' Essay, 5 
it must be remembered, is essentially epistemological, and 
the psychological analysis which it undertakes is carried 
out only so far as necessary to demonstrate the empirical 
derivation of all knowledge. 

2. Definitions of Association 

The term association, 1 as used by the English psy- 
chologists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, ap- 
plies primarily to the sequences that occur in trains of 
memory or imagination or thought: their problem was to 
formulate the principles involved in such sequences. Ac- 
cording to the view generally adopted by these thinkers, 
one such experience follows another through certain defi- 
nite relationships. Thus, one idea may serve to recall 
another which resembles it or which was contiguous to 
it in former experience. Here we have the narrowest 
view of association, conceived as the principle by which 
trains of ideas are induced. Starting with this funda- 
mental conception, the scope of the principle has been 
broadened in various directions. 

Thus, the role of association in respect to sensation is 
variously construed. All the writers belonging to the 
association school admit the rise of ideas following sensa- 
tions, according to the same laws of association that hold 
where the antecedent is an idea. Some go further and 

tt l Hobbes calls the process " mental discourse," Tucker calls it 
"translation," and Thomas Brown prefers the term "suggestion/* 
Other writers generally use " association." 


regard as a form of association the simultaneous presence 
of two or more sensations in consciousness, such as occurs 
in the act of perception. Others merely assume a nexus 
in such experiences without explicitly classing them as 
instances of association. On the other hand, all agree in 
denying that one sensation can bring up another sensation 
by association; it is generally admitted that the rise of 
sensations depends on something outside of consciousness, 
or at least on something apart from the individual human 

In the case of successive association, then, the general 
view has been that the antecedent may be either a sensa- 
tion or an idea (including under the latter term any sort 
of representation), while the consequent is always an idea. 

As regards simultaneous connections opinions differ: 
some affirm that such complexes of experience are in- 
stances of genuine association, while others deny this. 
Of the former, some writers believe that the associative 
laws hold equally well for sensations and ideas; others 
confine these laws to the union of ideas with either sensa- 
tions or ideas, while others limit them still further to the 
welding together of ideas into a complex idea, whether 
of memory or imagination. 

The manner in which association operates has also 
been variously stated. Similarity (or resemblance) 1 and 
contiguity figure most prominently among the laws sug- 

1 The two words similarity and resemblance are not distinguished 
in the discussion. Some writers prefer one or the other; some use 
the two indiscriminately. Etymologically, similarity appears to be 
a likeness between coordinate factors, resemblance a likeness of 
one thing to another. Thus, two strangers may be of similar 
appearance, while a son may resemble his father, and the father be 
resembled by the son; two dollar bills are similar, but a counterfeit 
resembles the real dollar. If this distinction be brought over into 
psychology, two ideas should be termed similar or resembling ac- 
cording as they are coordinate or one depends on the other, but 
an idea can only resemble a sensation. This mode of association, 
then, would be termed similarity or resemblance according to the 
form of the doctrine which a given writer holds. 


Some writers conceive these as coordinate principles; 
a sensation or idea, it is held, introduces either another 
idea that resembles it, or one that (either as sensation or 
idea) has been experienced in the past in close conjunc- 
tion with it temporally or spatially. Others reduce simi- 
larity to contiguity, contending that the similar parts of 
the two associated experiences are really identical, which 
leaves only the dissimilar elements in the new experience 
to be accounted for; the latter are explained through their 
previous contiguity with the identical elements. 

On the other hand, contiguity has been reduced to 
similarity by an inversion of this same mode of reasoning. 
One experience, it is contended, introduces another solely 
by the fact of their similarity, the apparently contiguous 
elements being really essential parts of the resembling 

Still another view subordinates the two principles to a 
single law, called redintegration or reinstatement. Here 
it is maintained that the fundamental fact involved is 
the reinstatement of a past experience through associa- 
tion with a present experience, the particular ground of 
reinstatement (likeness or some other relation) being a 
subsidiary question. 

The association of unlike or contrasted experiences has 
been recognized by some as an additional principle, fol- 
lowing the view of Aristotle, while by others it is regarded 
as merely a particular phase of the two laws already men- 

The factors determining the strength of any particular 
association that is, the likelihood of its occurring in any 
given circumstances have been analyzed in various ways. 
Prominent among the principles here recognized are the 
effects of habit (or repetition) and intensity. The fre- 
quent repetition of an experience, it is held, increases the 
probability of its revival by association, and the repetition 
of an association increases its liability to recur. Aside 


from the question of repetition, an experience of great 
intensity has been generally considered more likely to be 
revived by association than a weaker one. These and 
other factors which determine the degree of strength of 
association form a problem of analysis distinct from that 
of the modes of association, though many writers treat 
them under the same head, as Laws of Association. 

3. The . Association School and its Rivals 

Despite these many differences in the analysis, classifi- 
cation, and interpretation of association among the writers 
who contributed to the development of psychology in 
England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, 
and despite even greater divergence in other parts of their 
work, their systems represent a common standpoint. They 
are clearly and unmistakably differentiated from other 
psychological systems of the same period. The promi- 
nence of the conception of association in their analysis, 
the care with which they work out its laws even to minu- 
tiae, their constant endeavor to apply these laws to the 
more complex forms of consciousness all these char- 
acteristics justify us in grouping the English psycholo- 
gists together as a distinct school and applying the term 
Associationism to the movement. 

The British association psychology is distinguished on 
the one hand from the a priori psychology of J. C. von 
Wolff and a succession of thinkers in Germany, who main- 
tain that the rational faculty is unanalyzable and self- 
validating, and who account for the growth of knowledge 
in the individual by the operation of innate factors. It is 
equally differentiated on the other hand from a group of 
semi-empirical psychologists in Scotland, who base their 
system on immediate, intuitive knowledge of objective 
data. The English school regards knowledge as a com- 
plex of experiences welded together empirically through 
the instrumentality of association. It is closely allied to 


the contemporary French movement initiated by Helve- 
tius and Condillac, which based its psychology on the data 
furnished by the senses and whose recent successors 
(Taine and others) have modified the earlier sensation- 
ism into a true associationism. 

The emphasis laid on association as the fundamental 
principle of mental activity by writers of the English 
school is clearly due to their appreciation of its possibili- 
ties as a factor in explaining empirically the variety of 
mental functions. To account for the more complex types 
of consciousness in terms of experience is the aim of these 
thinkers. Proceeding along this line of inquiry, some 
principle depending on the" character of experience itself 
is needed at the outset to account for the succession and 
complex union of experiences. Association appeared to 
furnish the requisite instrument: it was adopted and 
applied to its fullest extent. Hence, the association doc- 
trine became the cardinal psychological principle of that 
school of thinkers which adopted the empirical method 
in philosophy. The epistemologists of the movement, 
such as Hume and John Stuart Mill, joined hands with 
the psychologists, David Hartley, James Mill, and Alex- 
ander Bain, in an endeavor to explain all complex forms 
of consciousness, including knowledge itself, by means of 
this single instrument. 

The reason for such an alliance between philosophy and 
psychology is not difficult to understand. One of the 
chief problems of epistemology is to account for experi- 
ence itself. Granting that the elementary data of expe- 
rience, simple sensations, are due to stimuli affecting the 
mind from ' without/ there remain certain other experi- 
ences, such as perceptions, memories, imaginations, and 
rational thought, which are not directly traceable to the 
same source. 1 To explain the occurrence of these phe- 

1 Perceptions belong here in so far as they are more than a series 
of isolated sensations. 


nomena in human experience is a psychological problem, 
and the philosopher who is not wholly dogmatic is con- 
fronted with the alternative of adopting the results at- 
tained by psychologists, or of undertaking an analysis of 
mental processes for himself. 

The problem, then, which engages the attention of both 
psychologist and philosopher is this: Can the more com- 
plicated forms of experience be accounted for wholly in 
terms of the simpler? Or must we suppose, in addition, 
the existence of certain innate ideas, universal principles 
of knowledge, or a priori forms, furnished to the mind 
independently of experience? Those who adopt the for- 
mer view, whether psychologists or epistemologists, de- 
clare themselves for empiricism, and their investigation 
is carried on along empirical lines. Those who prefer the 
latter interpretation must seek some other method and 
start with other premises. In either case the epistemolo- 
gist lends willing comfort and support to that school of 
psychology whose method is the same as his own. 

The modern a priori or nativistic movement was inaugu- 
rated by Rene Descartes. Unable to explain the presence 
of the idea of God in the human mind as a product of mere 
experience, he concluded that this idea must be regarded 
as innately implanted by Deity himself. Immanuel Kant, 
basing his analysis on simpler material, finds it necessary 
to assume a priori elements in all knowledge. Sensation, 
he says in the beginning of his c Critique of Pure Reason/ 
corresponds only to the matter of the phenomenon; some- 
thing else, the form, must lie a priori in the mind, since 
" that in which our sensations are merely arranged and 
by which they are susceptible of assuming a certain form, 
cannot be itself experience." * Thus at the very outset 
he assumes that there is something in knowledge not 
accounted for by the data of experience or by any of the 
complications of data based on the nature of experience 

1 Trans. Elementarlehre, ite T., i, Par. 3. 


itself; in other words, he posits something given to the 
mind independently of experience. The psychologists 
of the movement reach a similar conclusion as a result of 
their own analysis, and we have thus a union of philoso- 
phy and psychology on an a priori basis. 

Compare this with Locke's primary assumption that all 
experience consists of sensation and reflection, or Hume's 
division of experience into sensations and ideas. Here 
is an epistemological attempt, followed out on the psycho- 
logical side by Hartley and succeeding writers, to explain 
experiences solely in terms of experience itself. The suc- 
cess of such an attempt depends on the discovery of a 
principle or process in experience by which its simplest 
data sensations are transformed into more and more 
complex forms, ending with self-consciousness and ra- 
tional knowledge. Association seemed best able to ac- 
count for this transformation; hence, the empirical 
thinkers, both psychologists and epistemologists, devoted 
their energy largely to examining the nature of the asso- 
ciative process, formulating its laws, and applying them 
to all conceivable forms of complex experiences. 

The third movement, Scottish intuitionism, which is 
contemporaneous with these two, exhibits the spirit of 
associationism in its philosophy and the spirit of the 
a priori movement in its psychology, though differing 
from both in the form of its doctrines. Thomas Reid, 
Dugald Stewart, and their followers, and more recently 
James McCosh, regard mind as a collection of faculties, 
each fully capable of performing its functions from the 
beginning the memory capable of remembering, the ra- 
tional faculty of reasoning, the perceptive faculty of per- 
ceiving objects as they exist in the outer world. But 
while their psychology is thus furnished with a priori 
elements for knowledge, the actual rise of knowledge is 
regarded as strictly empirical. The mind is held to be 
endowed with capacities for correct perception and knowl- 


edge; but actual perception and actual knowledge, whether 
of facts or of universal truths, are processes depending on 
the breadth or limitation of actual experience. 

Historically the Scottish movement bears a twofold 
relation to associationism. The works of the Scottish 
writers being in the English language rendered them more 
accessible, and caused them to exert an ' unconscious ' 
influence here and there on the views of the association- 
ists. This is seen most notably, perhaps, in the increasing 
tendency of the English school, as time progressed, to 
separate the emotional and active sides of consciousness 
from intellectual experiences. But in addition to this 
general influence a direct relationship between the two 
movements was established by Thomas Brown, a pupil of 
Stewart, who adopted a thoroughgoing association method 
in his psychology, in connection with a modified form of 
the faculty view brought ovejr from the Scottish school. 
We shall have occasion to note the influence of Brown, 
and through him of the Scottish movement, on the later 
phases of associationism. 

The association movement, it should be observed, is 
by no means limited to England. It includes Scotch and 
Irish writers as well, and numbers many adherents out- 
side of the British Isles. England, however, was the seat 
of its most notable achievements, and it is therefore not 
inappropriate to call associationism the ' English psy- 

4. Philosophical Standpoints of the Associationists 

The bond of union in the association movement, as we 
have seen, is found chiefly in the unwavering devotion of 
its adherents to the empirical method in psychology. The 
philosophical standpoints occupied by the associationists 
are most diverse. At one extreme we find George Berke- 
ley, whose philosophy represents a radical type of ideal- 


ism resting on a theistic basis; at the other extreme the 
dualism of Hartley, which by its emphasis on brain func- 
tions led to an out-and-out materialistic philosophy in 
some of his disciples. Hume represents the skeptical 
attitude in philosophy, while Herbert Spencer declares 
for an agnostic position, which may be interpreted either 
in terms of monism or as a thoroughgoing dualism. 
Locke and John Stuart Mill are subjective dualists of 
different types, and Hobbes's standpoint, so far as his 
scattered utterances can be interpreted, is a dualism pure 
and simple. 

The attitude of the associationists in logic and ethics 
also shows considerable variety. Their interpretation of 
the general notion is quite evenly divided between nom- 
inalism and conceptualism. On the question of the free- 
dom of the will the deterministic position is generally 
accepted; but Berkeley, and Hume in one of his 
works (the * Treatise'), incline to a modified libertarian 

One must bear constantly in mind the influence of 
epistemological interests in fostering the investigation of 
association and molding the English school of psychology; 
unless this non-psychological motive be taken into account 
the historical development of the movement will be only 
imperfectly appreciated. But it is beyond the scope of 
the present work to discuss the philosophical side of the 
association problem. Whether knowledge derived through 
association of sensations is knowledge of things-in-them- 
selves or only of phenomena, is a problem distinct from 
the analysis of the processes concerned in knowledge. The 
history of the latter the association psychology alone 
concerns us. We shall confine our examination to the role 
of association in mental activity as the associationists con- 
ceived or investigated it, passing over the philosophical 
implications into which they were inevitably drawn. Only 
in examining the theories of space perception does it 


seem impossible to avoid touching upon their views con- 
cerning the nature of matter and objective reality. 

5. Outline of the Association Psychology 

The historical development of the association doctrine 
may be divided into four stages. 

(1) There is first of all a precursory period begin- 
ning with the suggestions furnished by Aristotle, which 
bore little fruit till the time of Hobbes. Within this period 
should be included Hobbes and his successors, Locke, 
Berkeley, and others, whose analysis of mental associa- 
tion contributed important data to the doctrine before it 
became crystallized into a definite type of psychology. 
This preliminary stage ends with Hume. It is usual for 
writers of philosophy to class this thinker among the 
associationists. But Hume's aim, like that of Locke, was 
distinctly epistemological; he was interested in psychol- 
ogy even the psychology of associations-only as a step- 
ping-stone to his theory of knowledge. From the psy- 
chologist's standpoint, then, it is more fitting to include 
Hume among the precursors of the movement, and to 
regard the association psychology proper as beginning 
with Hartley, whose ' Observations on Man,' published 
in 1749, marks a new epoch in mental analysis. From 
this point on, associationism assumes the role of a psy- 
chological doctrine and school in Great Britain. 

(2) The second stage of development extends from 
1749 to 1829. During this period Hartley, Brown, and 
their contemporaries built up a psychology which was 
fairly complete in covering the field of mental phenomena, 
though distorted by the crude physiology and burdened 
by the primitive anthropology of their time. 

(3) With a better knowledge of the functions of the 
nervous system, and a dawning conception of the parallel 
between the growth of the child and the progress of the 


human race, the third stage was inaugurated in 1829, by 
the appearance of James Mill's 'Analysis of the Phe- 
nomena of the Human Mind.' Following him came John 
Stuart Mill, Bain, and other writers, in whose works the 
association psychology proper attains its complete devel- 

(4) The fourth stage may be said to date from 1855, 
when Herbert Spencer published his * Principles of Psy- 
chology.' In this work he unites his evolution philoso- 
phy, and later (in the revised edition of 1872) the 
evolution biology of Charles Darwin, with the traditional 
empirical psychology. This resulted in transferring the 
association principle from individual to racial experience; 
or rather, the particular applications of mental associa- 
tion in individual experience are made subordinate to 
inherited associations, whose origin is in many cases 
traced back to remote times and to primitive types of 
organism. This conception was worked out more thor- 
oughly by George Henry Lewes. 

Along with the main development of associationism in 
England, should be noticed the contributions' to the doc- 
trine furnished from time to time by sympathetic Con- 
tinental writers, notably Condillac and the sensationists 
of the eighteenth century, and the late nineteenth century 
French school of which Taine is the leading exponent. 
The connection between these writers and the British 
movement is too loose, however, to be brought within a 
single line of historical development. 1 

The association psychology culminated with Bain, 
Spencer, and Lewes. The evolution doctrine of the two 
last writers affords a wider scope to the play of associa- 
tion; but at the same time it opens the door to other 
factors, which have tended to lessen the importance of 
association in the eyes of the empirical investigator. The 

1 The chronological chart at the end of the volume shows the 
parallel development of the two schools. 


emphasis now laid on biological continuity has stimulated 
a broader conception of mental development than the 
association notion taken by itself would allow. The better 
understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the nerv- 
ous system brought about by recent research has led to 
a reconstruction of the older notions of mental structure 
and function. The application of mathematical methods 
to psychophysical research has drawn attention to new 
aspects of mental processes and has even altered some- 
what our conception of the associative process itself. As 
a result the attitude of empirical psychology toward asso- 
ciation has changed in recent years. The introspective 
associationism of half a century ago gradually lost its 
influence. The problems which it sought to solve have 
given place to others. 

In the following chapters * the rise of the association 
psychology will be traced through the four stages to its 
culmination in Spencer and Lewes, with a summary of 
the entire movement. 2 A separate chapter 3 will be de- 
voted to the contributions of Continental associationists. 

While the present-day aspects of the association prob- 
lem scarcely fall within the province of an historical 
work, they cannot be altogether ignored. The transfor- 
mation which has taken place in the standpoint of empiri- 
cal psychology, and the new treatment of mental associa- 
tion which has resulted, seem to belong properly within 
the field of our inquiry. 4 

Bringing together the various historic interpretations 
given to the associative laws, and allowing for differences 
of terminology and emphasis, a composite picture may be 
obtained of the associative principle 5 as conceived by the 
empirical school of psychologists; and of their application 
of these laws to the explanation of mental phenomena. 6 

i Ch. 2-5. 2 Ch. 6. * Ch. 7- 

* Ch. 8. 5 Ch. 9. e Ch. 10. 


<5. Source Books 

The most thorough treatment of associationism from 
the historian's standpoint, singularly enough, is by an 
Italian and is written in French. *La psychologic de 
1'association,' by Luigi Ferri (1883), gives a very ade- 
quate and balanced presentation of the movement in 
Britain from Hobbes to Spencer. In Ferri's summary 
of the precursors of the school there is rather too little of 
Hobbes and too much of Berkeley. One may deem his 
treatment of James Mill too brief as compared with the 
emphasis laid on J. S. Mill and Bain. These are in the 
main attributable to the author's personal equation. 

Not so defensible is his dismissal of Lewes in a brief 
paragraph, as a broad-minded follower of Spencer, " who 
did not devote his attention specially to the association 
doctrine, which he nevertheless accepts as a part of the 
more general doctrine of experience, together with evolu- 
tion, which extends it indefinitely." 1 Apart from this 
single instance his perspective is well drawn, and his 
portrayal of the main features of each writer is good. 

About one-third of the book is devoted to a critical esti- 
mate of the theory, and this part is particularly worthy 
of careful examination. Ferri's work is designedly lim- 
ited to British writers, with only passing references to 
others; an exception is made, possibly from some national 
sentiment, in favor of the Italian writer Zanotti. This 
book has been of more assistance to the present writer 
than any other single work. 

Another very complete history of associationism is 
found in 'La psychologic anglaise contemporaine,' by 
Th. Ribot (iSyo), 2 which covers the movement from 
Hartley to Lewes in a very adequate manner. As a his- 
tory of Associationism (which it does not claim to be) 
its chief defect is the omission of writers prior to Hartley, 

lp - 2I 7- 2 Revised 1875 and 1892; also Engl. trans. 


the total neglect of Thomas Brown, and the inadequate 
discussion of Lewes. 

These deficiencies are all easily explained. Lewes's 
chief works had not appeared when the volume was first 
published; Brown, on account of his affiliations with the 
Scottish school, did not seem to the author to belong 
among English writers; and, since Ribot's object was to 
portray merely the contemporary status of English psy- 
chology, Hobbes and his successors down to Hume ap- 
peared too remotely connected with the present-day situ- 
ation to be noticed. Ribot's redundancy in other places 
may be explained on the same grounds. The less impor- 
tant and outlying doctrines of the writers from James 
Mill onward are given at greater length than would be 
desirable were the book concerned with the association 
problem alone. 

Ribot's work has an advantage over Ferri's as a his- 
tory, in that his own leaning toward associationism enables 
him to treat the writers of the school with more sympa- 
thetic insight. 1 

No general history of associationism has been written 
in Great Britain or America so complete and impartial 
as either of these, though numerous briefer surveys of 
the movement have appeared and many books and maga- 
zine articles dealing with special periods and writers. 
Only those of most importance from the historical stand- 
point need be mentioned. 

The article on c Association of Ideas ' in the Encyclo- 
pedia Britannica, Ninth Edition, written by G. Croom 
Robertson, though far briefer than Ferri or Ribot, is 

1 This is a real advantage only when combined with the historical 
instinct, as is the case with Ribot. Lewes's ' History of Philosophy ' 
exhibits the disadvantages which may attend such agreement it 
serves as an excuse for criticizing at length the minor points of 
difference between the historian and the authors examined. In the 
present work personal criticisms are confined to the footnotes; the 
criticisms in the text are based on the general consensus of asso- 


perhaps the most adequate treatment of the association 
movement as a whole and the principles for which it 
stands. It covers the field from Aristotle down to Spen- 
cer thoroughly, with not a sentence of irrelevant matter. 
Lewes is omitted, possibly because the article was writ- 
ten before his chief work (the c Problems ') appeared. 
The synopsis and critique of the various conceptions of 
the associative principles contained in this article have 
been of great help to the present writer, especially in the 
preparation of chapters IX and X. The article is re- 
printed in Robertson's ' Philosophical Remains.' x 

In the Britannica, Eleventh Edition, the same article 
appears in somewhat condensed form, with a new section 
on recent criticisms of the school. The original article is 
preferable. Mention should also be made of the special 
examination of the several associationist writers found 
in the Britannica under their names. Most of these arti- 
cles are very full and written from a broad standpoint; 
Bain and Spencer are missing from the list in the Ninth 
Edition, as they were still living when the work was pre- 
pared; they are included in the Eleventh. 

The treatment in all the other English and American 
encyclopedias (usually under ' Association of Ideas ') is 
too brief to be of much service, except to outline the doc- 
trine; the same may be said of the articles c Association 
of Ideas ' and ' Associationism ' by G. F. Stout in Bald- 
win's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology. The 
German Konversations-Lexika include only brief notices; 
the French Grande encyclopddie has a good summary by 
Ribot, also rather condensed. 

Histories of philosophy by German writers treat the 
association movement very inadequately, on account of 
the overshadowing influence of Kant and his school on 
German thought. Ueberweg's work devotes considerable 
space to the individual writers, and is a good reference 

102 ff. 


work for this as for other movements. A most satisfac- 
tory historical treatment so far as the date of its publica- 
tion permits is found in ' Speculative Philosophy in the 
Nineteenth Century/ by J. D. Morell (1846) ;* another 
satisfactory discussion appears in the ' Histoire de la 
philosophic, les problemes et les ecoles/ by Paul Janet and 
Gabriel Seailles ( 1887-8). 2 G. H. Lewes's 'History of 
Philosophy' ( 1845-6)* takes a sympathetic attitude but 
is quite inadequate as a view of the whole movement, 
though the treatment of Hartley is exceptionally good; 
Brown and James Mill are omitted altogether, and the 
later writers are only referred to briefly. 4 

The precursory period, from Aristotle to Hobbes, is 
covered exhaustively in an essay by Sir William Hamilton, 
appended as a Note to his edition of Reid's * Works.' 
This is based on an earlier work by J. G. E. Maass, 6 but 
contains many independent citations. S. T. Coleridge's 
essay on the early phase of associationism in his ' Biblio- 
graphia Literaria ' (1847) in quite untrustworthy. Victor 
Cousin's * Philosophic sensationiste de la i8 e siecle' is 
especially good in its treatment of Hobbes. 

' David Hartley and James Mill/ by G. S. Bower 
(1881) gives an excellent summary of the association 
theory of these two writers, with some discussion of the 
younger Mill and of Spencer. While numerous magazine 
articles have appeared on the latest phase of associa- 
tionism, 6 and several important works have been written 

1 Revised 1858. 

2 Engl. trans. 1902. 

3 Several revisions to 1880. 

4 See Bibliography at end of this volume for other histories which 
are helpful in their discussion of specific periods or writers. 
Robert Blakey's treatment of Hartley and the other earlier writers, 
in his ' History of the Philosophy of Mind ' (1848), Vol. Ill, may be 
cited as an excellent specimen in every respect of what an historical 
review should not be. 

6 Hamilton refers to this as Maass's 'Beytraege' (1792). I am 
unable to find the work, 
6 See Bibliography. 


from a controversial standpoint, there is nothing to be 
specially recommended which covers the history of this 

Interesting reviews of the experimental investigation 
of association, which has recently become prominent, and 
its relation to the older doctrine, are to be found in 
' L'Association des idees/ by E. Claparede (1902), the 
' Essai critique et theorique sur 1'association en psycho- 
logic,' by Paul Sollier (1907), and 'The Psychology of 
Association,' by Felix Arnold (1906). 


1. Aristotle 

THE notion that one idea or memory image follows 
another according to certain definite principles was th 
first step toward a general theory of association among 
mental states. This fundamental notion is found first, 
and in quite definite form, in the writings of Aristotle 
(B. C. 384-322). The earlier Greek philosophers were 
too engrossed in the problems of objective reality to exam- 
ine the processes of experience. 

PLATO suggests almost casually, in the * Phsedo/ the 
function of contiguity and similarity in the act of recol- 
lection. " What is the feeling of lovers when they recog- 
nize a lyre or a garment or anything else which the be- 
loved has been in the habit of using? Do not they from 
knowing the lyre form in the mind's eye an image of the 
youth to whom the lyre belongs? And this is recollection: 
and in the same way anyone who sees Simmias may re- 
member Cebes. . . . And from the picture of Simmias 
you may be led to remember Cebes. ... Or you may 
be led to the recollection of Simmias himself. . . . And 
in all these cases the recollection may be derived from 
things either like or unlike. . . . When we perceived some- 
thing either by the help of sight or hearing or some other 
sense, there was no difficulty in receiving from this a 
conception of some other thing, like or unlike, which had 
been forgotten and which was associated with this." * 

Neither here nor in the 'Timseus/ which contains a 
1 * Phaedo,' 73-6, Jowett trans. 


fairly broad psychology, does he develop the notion fur- 
ther. According to Plato, knowledge is innate; learning 
consists merely in drawing out such knowledge as the soul 
had in previous existences. We draw out such knowl- 
edge, just as we recollect events of the present life, by 
means of similar experiences, or by unlike but ' contigu- 

ous ' ones. 

ARISTOTLE'S systematic investigation of the. whole 
realm of things knowable led him to examine mental 
facts quite as thoroughly as physical phenomena, and to 
employ for this purpose considerable self-observation. 
In the course of his study he noticed that the links in 
chains of thought which end in the recollection of particu- 
lar facts succeed one another more or less systematically, 
and he believed that he had discovered the principles of 
their connection. Only three sorts of relationship, he 
affirms, are involved in the succession of thoughts: simi- 
larity, contrast, and contiguity. This and his doctrine 
of the fusion of experiences mark the historical starting- 
point of associationism. 

Aristotle's analysis of the sequence of mental processes 
is somewhat obscure, owing partly to the physical import 
of many of his terms, partly to the difficulty of getting 
at his real standpoint and interpreting his statements into 
modern psychological language. There are uncertainties 
too in the text at critical points, and one is always in 
danger of reading into his elliptical phraseology a mean- 
ing which he may never have intended. Sir William 
Hamilton's brilliant and exhaustive discussion of Aris- 
totle's contributions to our theme is certainly, open to 
this last objection. 

It is in treating of memory and recollection in the 
'De Memoria' that Aristotle brings out his notion of 
association. " A sense is capable of receiving into itself 
sensible forms without their matter, just as the wax re- 
ceives into itself the mark of a ring without its iron or 


gold. 5 ' 1 The persistence of such an impression consti- 
tutes memory, 2 which is " neither sensation nor concep- 
tual thought but the condition or modified form of one 
of these after the lapse of time." 3 " Memory is the pos- 
session of an experience potentially revivable." 4 

The problem then arises, How is such a revival, which 
we call recollection, brought about? 

"Recollection occurs," says Aristotle, " inasmuch as 
one experience naturally succeeds another. If [the suc- 
cession be] necessary, it is plain that when the one is 
stimulated it will stimulate the other; if not necessary 
but habitual, then it will stimulate it only in most in- 
stances. It is a fact that some persons are more habitu- 
ated after being stimulated once than others after many 
times; just so we remember some things better after 
seeing them once than other things after many times. 
Hence, when we are recollecting we keep stimulating 
certain earlier experiences until we have stimulated one 
which the one in question is wont to succeed. And just 
so we hunt through the sequence, thinking along from 
the present or some other [thing], and from similar or 
contrasted or contiguous. By this means the recollection 
comes; for the experiences are in some cases identical with 
[the one in question], in others simultaneous with it, in 
others they involve a portion, so that the remainder is 
small and is thereupon stimulated. In this way, then, 
persons make effort [to recollect], and in this way also 
without effort they do recollect, when the [experience] 
in question succeeds some other experience; though it is 
generally after a succession of other experiences such as 
we have mentioned that the one in question comes. It 
is not necessary to inquire how we remember the remote, 
but only the contiguous; for it is plain that the procedure 

i ' De Anima/ II, Ch. XII, i ; cf. ' De Memoria,' I, 10. 
2 ' De Mem./ I, 10. 
'De Mem./ 1,4- 
*'DeMem./H, 12. 


is the same I mean, that of sequence when we [recol- 
lect] without preliminary effort and even when we fail 
to recollect. For experiences habitually follow one an- 
other, this succeeding that. And so, when a person wishes 
to recollect, he will do this: he will endeavor to get some 
initial experience, which the one in question succeeded. 
Just so recollection comes most quickly and best [if it 
proceeds] from an initial point; for just as things are 
related to one another by sequence, so also are experi- 
ences; and such matters as have a regular order are 
easily remembered for instance, mathematical science; 
others poorly and with difficulty." x 

1 2vp.6aivouat 8* at dvajwi<rEi, |jcst8r) Jteqnjxev r\ xivriaig f}8e 
d TrjvfiE* si piv s dvaYXTis,^ dfjXov <bg OTOV dxEivr) xi- 
8e PLTJ e*| dvavxTis dXX J Sftsi, 

8to evta &ra l86vTg jiaXXov 
ETEQa JtoXXaxi^. "Orav o^v dvaiitptviiaxc&M.E^a, xivovufi^a TCDV 


xal TO itpslfig < 0TiQ / iJOjiv voiiaavTEg dit6 TOTJ vtJv i\ aXA.ov tivog, xal 
dcp* on-ciou fi IvavTiov ft TOV cnjvEYYvg. Aid TOIJTO v^Etai ri dvdjivn- 
015- al JQ xivricEiS TOUTCOV TCOV ^v^oi^avTaL^tcov 8* aM-a, twv SE 
HEQOC; E^OUOIV, WOTE to 7,01^6^ JIIXQOV o ^xivri^n M-et* EXEIVO. 
ToOm HEV o5v OVTCO, xal jirj ^T]Toi)vTg 8* ofltcog dv 
Stav piE-fr' ETEQttv xwiaiv IxEi'virt vevriTaf 65^8^ xd 


oxojcstv ja JCOQQCD, Jtc6g gEfxvniAEtta, dXXd xd <n3vYY^e' 8fj^ov Y&Q 
OTI 6 awtoc i<JTi TQOJtoc, Xev(o E TO Eqpfi^, oft jipotiTcricrat; 0118' 
dva-vncrdeig. Tcp Y&Q ^si dxoXov&oxJatv al XIV/ICTEIS dXXriXaLg, ^8e 
Tnv8fi. Kal oTav TOIVUV dvaM.ip.viri<Jxodai (3ojjXTiTai, TOUTO Jtoi- 
tntficei Xa6stv de%rjv xivnascog, IXE^ T)V Ixeivn ecrrcu. Ai6 td- 
xal xdXXio*Ta Ytvovrat cbc* doxTJC at dvajivncreis' d>? Ydo ^xovca 
td jtQaYnaTa jtQog fiXX-n^a t(p icpE^fig, OIJTOD xal al xivnaEig. Kal 
I'arnv EUM-vTipiovEUTa 6'o*a rd|iv tivd l%t, dStwrEp Ta (xa^rjuaTa' xd 
81 cpavtaog xal 

'De Mem.,' II, 6-n (4SI& seq.). I am indebted to my colleague 
Professor E. Y. Robbins for assistance in this translation, which 
aims to go no further than the text justifies. The words in square 
brackets are our own insertions. Aristotle's use of physical terms 
in discussing mental facts will be understood if we render Ktvijr% 
stimulation, instead of experience; the verb Mvtu has been translated 
stimulate. Aristotle uses the noun, like the verb, in the sense of 
movement or energy, but psychologists will find 'experience' or 
'mental process* quite near his meaning and more intelligible. 
The text used is Bekker's edition. Compare William Hamilton's 
rendering (Reid's 'Works/ Note D**), and the excellent translation 


The conception of association developed in this remark- 
able passage covers a broader field than the mere act of 
recollection which it seeks to explain. Aristotle's main 
contentions may be restated in more modern form as fol- 
lows: In accounting for recollection we should observe 
that it depends on the sequence of mental processes. 
Mental processes always take the form of a series, or 
train. Their serial association is due in some cases to a 
necessary connection, in others merely to their occurring 
together habitually. Habitual connection brings about 
actual association in most cases, but not always. Its 
power to- do so varies with the individual and the sort of 
experience. The series may start with present experience 
(sensation?) or with something besides present experi- 
ence. Its members follow one another according to simi- 
larity, contrast, or contiguity. 1 The process is the same 
in efforts to recollect, whether successful or not, as in 
spontaneous recollection. Usually the series or train con- 
sists of several members. After some elaboration of the 
last two points the author makes this practical applica- 
tion: Since serial order is the natural characteristic of 
mental states, we shall recollect most readily what we 
wish if we begin by calling up something related to it; 
and similarly, subjects which have a natural order of 
sequence, such as mathematical truths, are those most 
easily fixed in memory. 

Aristotle's contribution to the theory of successive asso- 
ciation, if this interpretation be correct, is fourfold, (i) 
He was the first to point out clearly that the sequence 
of cognitive experiences is not mere chance, but occurs 

by W. A. ^ Hammond ('Aristotle's Psychology/ p. 204). Ham- 
mond's version has been used in other passages from Aristotle. 

1 Professor E. B. Titchener agrees with Hamilton's interpretation 
of this passage, which makes temporal sequence a fourth law of 
association. While this reading is admissible it seems to the writer 
more likely that Aristotle conceived of the temporal sequence as 
underlying every association, and that the process itself follows the 
three laws here stated. 


through a definite process of natural association. (2) He 
recognizes habit as an important factor in determining 
association subject, however, to individual variations. 
(3) Most important of all, he specifies the three prin- 
ciples of similarity, contrast, and contiguity as the sole 
bases of * habitual ' associative connection. (4) He de- 
clares that the same laws hold in purposive thinking as 
in the spontaneous flow of thought. 

Fusion, or simultaneous association, was not altogether 
overlooked by Aristotle, though his discussion of this 
point contains more a priori reasoning than introspection. 
Two separate simultaneous sensations, he says, are im- 
possible. Even with a single sense, such as sight, the 
stronger of two sensations will displace the weaker; or 
if they be of equal strength they will counteract each 
other, leaving no sensation at all. But if they are not 
separate, they may combine and a new sensation arise, 
fused out of both elements. 1 Much less can there be two 
separate simultaneous sensations from different senses, 
such as sight and taste. 2 But in this case also fusion 
may occur, as for instance between white and sweet. This 
variety of fusion is attributed by him to * some unitary 
principle of the soul/ which senses the white and the sweet 
as a single unit. 3 It is interesting to note that very simi- 
lar conclusions regarding fusion are reached by a set 
of modern writers based, however, on quite different 

2. Post-Aristotelian Contributions; Descartes 

Aristotle's views on successive association do not seem 
to have been adopted or even understood by the thinkers 
of the centuries immediately following. In a few in- 
stances only was the problem even approached. 

The psychology of the STOICS we know only at second 

1 ' De Sensu,' VII, 3-4; cf. 7- 2 Ibid., 9 ; cf. 14. 

*/&&, 24; cf.a6. 


hand. According to the summary of their doctrines given 
by Diogenes Laertes (ca. 200 A. D.), which is the nearest 
we can come to the original, the Stoics held that thoughts 
are formed by " similarity, or analogy, or transposition, 
or combination, or opposition. By a direct perception 
we perceive those things which are the objects of sense; 
by similarity, those which start from some point present 
to our senses; as, for instance, we form an idea of Socra- 
tes from his likeness." 1 It is not clear whether this view 
was held by Zeno of Cittium, the founder of the school 
(B. C. ca, 342-264), or was developed by his disciple 
Chrysippus (B. C. ca. 281-208). The examples which 
are given of the other processes indicate a very super- 
ficial analysis, which does not touch the problem of the 
modes of association. 

EPICURUS (B. C. 342-270), acordmg""to"the ^ame au- 
thority, held that ' every notion proceeds from the sepses, 
either directly, or in consequence of some Analogy, 'or 
.proportion, or combination. 7 c The recollection of an ex- 
ternal object often perceived anteriorly' occurs as fol- 
lows : " At the same moment that we utter the word man, 
we conceive the figure of a man, in virtue of a preconcep- 
tion which we owe to the preceding operations of the 
senses." 2 The notion of successive association is cer- 
tainly implied in this, but it is not clearly broyght out, 
and no analysis of the ways and meaps is given in the 
text! Nor do the disciples of Epicurus appear to have 
worked out the problem further. 

Among the Sceptics, CARNEADES (B. C. ca. 215-129) 
definitely alludes to successive association. According to 
Sextus Empiricus, Carneades compares the succession of 
thoughts to " a chain, in which one link is dependent on 
another." 3 

*Diog. L., VII, Zeno, 36; Bohn's trans., p. 278. 
2 Diog. L., Bk X, '21 ; Bohn, p. 435-6- 

s Sext. Emp., 'Adv. Math./ Bk. VII, 176; see Hamilton's 'Reid/ 
p. 894. 


ST. AUGUSTINE * (A. D. 354-430), though indebted to 
Aristotle, takes a different view of memory and recollec- 
tion, in that he lays more stress on association by conti- 
guity. Memory, he says, receives within its gates all sorts 
of sense impressions. 1 " Nor yet do the things themselves 
enter in, only the images of the things perceived." 2 Out 
of this store we are continually weaving together new 
images of things which we have experienced. 3 In dark- 
ness and silence we can bring up colors and sounds. 4 
" But what when the memory itself loses anything? . . . 
Wliere do we search but in the memory itself? And 
there, if one thing be offered instead of another, we reject 
it, until what we seek meets us; and when it doth, we say, 
1 This is it.' ... By the part whereof we had hold was 
the lost part sought for." 5 That the c lost part/ when 
it is found, comes from memory, is shown by the fact that 
it is recognized. If we are trying to recollect a name, and 
some one mentions it, it comes to us not as something 
new, but as familiar. " Were it utterly blotted out of the 
mind, we should not remember it, even when reminded." 6 

"Augustine limits the associations involved in recollec- 
tion to relations of contiguity; the experiences reinstated 
are c parts ' of the experience which calls them up. But 
as his illustration shows, the relation of parts, is not lim- 
ited to mere spatial contiguity; it embraces the totality 
of elements in any experience. He applies the principle 
of contiguity in its broadest sense. 

-The many commentators on Aristotle during the mid- 
die ages took up the passage on recollection which has 
been quoted. They discussed and amplified it, as they 
did every saying of the master, but without throwing any 
new light on association. Sir William Hamilton made an 
exhaustive search of this literature, which he presents in 

1 L. Augustinus Aurelius. 

2 'Confessions,' Bk. X., 13; Parker's trans., 1885. 

* Ibtd., 14. * Ibid., 13. 28. Ibid. 


the voluminous note (D**) at the end of his edition of 
Reid's works. In none of the authors there cited, except 
those already mentioned, can one find any real contribu- 
tion to the doctrine up to the time of Descartes and 
Hobbes. It must be borne in mind that during the latter 
part of the middle ages to depart from the dicta of Aris- 
totle was regarded as akin to heresy. Any freshness or 
originality was frowned upon; the only advances came 
from new interpretations and these too often were mis- 
interpretations. The verbal contributions to the doctrine 
of association during this period are minutely treated in 
Hamilton's survey, which will delight a reader who cares 
for textual exposition. 1 A single instance will serve to 
illustrate the vain groping after new light at the dawn of 
modern times. 

Luis VIVES (1492-1540), a Spanish commentator on 
Aristotle, was at the same time a writer of some original- 
ity. Commenting on the passage which we have exam- 
ined, he ventures the view that recollection occurs 'by 
steps,' " from cause to effect; from the latter to instru- 
ment; through the part to the whole; from this to situa- 
tion; from situation to person; from person to earlier and 
later things; to contrary; to similar." a " On looking at 
a place, from this there comes into the mind what we 
know to have happened in the place or to be situate 
there." 3 He thus recognizes the broad fact that trains of 
thought proceed in the direction of many sorts of logical 

1 Hamilton's citations are reliable, but not his interpretations ^of 
other writers. His criticisms are biased by his own standpoint and 
often reflect his prejudices. As already stated, he reads top much 
into Aristotle's elliptical phraseology. I am also of the opinion that 
he gives altogether too little credit to Hobbes and other writers of 
later date. Originality consists not always, nor chiefly, in collecting 
the raw material; more important is the shaping of ^ the ^ material 
the framing of .a consistent viewpoint. .A doctrine is not old 
because its elements have Seen used before, any more than a poem 
is old because previous writers have employed the same words or 
the same alphabet. 

2 ' De Anima/ Bk. II, ch. De Mem. 

s Ibid., Bk. I. 


relationship; but he does not attempt to analyze these 
laws of association into their first psychological terms as 
did Aristotle. 

RENE DESCARTES (1596-1650), the herald of the new 
era of thought, in spite of the great variety of topics which 
he treated, has little to say on the subject of memory and 
recollection. We may attribute this neglect to his doc- 
trine of innate ideas, which made it seem to him of slight 
importance to explain how former experiences are 're- 
called ' in memory. 

In his posthumous work, the 'Traite de Thomme,' 
speaking of the action of objects on the nerves and brain, 
he says: " They have the strength to form for themselves 
there certain passages which still remain open after the 
action of the object ... has ceased, or which, if they 
close up, at least leave a certain disposition in the little 
fibers of which the brain ... is composed, by means of 
which they can much more easily be opened again than if 
they had never been so before. . . . And also it must 
be noticed that if we open only certain ones . . . this of 
itself may be the cause of others . . . reopening also at 
the same time, especially if they had all been opened to- 
gether several times and had not been used to being so 
one without the others. This shows how the recollection 
of one thing may be excited by that of another which 
was formerly impressed on the memory at the same time 
as it." * " The vestiges in the brain/' .he says elsewhere, 
" render it fit to move the soul in the same fashion as it 
was moved before, and thus to make it remember some 
thing, even as the folds which are in a piece of paper or 
a cloth make it more fit to be folded as it was before, 
than if it had never been so folded." 2 

Descartes seems to hold that things which have been 

1 Cousin's French. ed., Vol. IV, pp. 400-1. The omissions, with one 
exception, are letters referring to an accompanying diagram. The 
translations from Descartes are mine. 

2 ' Lettres/ I, 36; French ed. of 1667. 


experienced together tend to be recalled together (con- 
tiguity), and that an experience will recall an earlier expe- 
rience which partly even though not wholly resembles 
it (similarity) . The reinstatement is made easier through, 
habit, and is accomplished through the ' vestiges ' of the 
former experience in the brain. 

3. Thomas Hobbes 

With THOMAS HOBBES, of Malmesbury (1588-1679), 
began a new epoch in the development of the doctrine. 
Aristotle's work was mainly by way of enumeration and 
classification. He applies the laws of associative connec- 
tion which he discovered to but one class of experiences 
memory. Only by implication are they extended to the 
relations between memory, sensation, and the other men- 
tal processes. And neither the later Greeks nor the 
Schoolmen, neither Augustine nor Descartes, despite their 
independent analyses, advanced perceptibly beyond his 
position. Augustine merely emphasizes the law of con- 
tiguity at the expense of similarity and opposition. For 
Descartes the associative process signifies a connection 
between brain states rather than experiences. 

Hobbes's psychology is noteworthy as an initial at- 
tempt (i) to establish the relation between different sorts 
of mental states on what we would today call a psycho- 
physical basis; and (2) to trace all mental content ulti- 
mately to sense experience, doing away with the old no- 
'tion of innate ideas. The real importance of Hobbes 
must be measured in the light of his influence on subse- 
quent thought. The British thinkers who followed him 
developed their systems of psychology along the lines that 
he marked out; the notion of association, which he did 
little more than outline, became more and more promi- 
nent as the analysis was perfected. His historical value 
to associationism, therefore, lies not so much in his own 


contributions to the doctrine, as in the fact that he estab- 
lished the type of psychology out of which associationism 
naturally and logically developed. 

Hobbes's psychology is found in his two principal 
works, 'Human Nature' (1650), and 'Leviathan' 
(1651). His standpoint is sensationistic, rather than 
associationistic. He is chiefly concerned in showing that 
the c cognitive powers ' of the mind deal only with mate- 
rial given by the senses. The effect which an object 
produces on the brain, he says, does not cease when the 
object ceases to work upon us; " though the sense [sen- 
sation] be past, the image or conception remaineth." 1 
Imagination is any " conception remaining and by little 
and little decaying " from the act of sense* 2 The strong- 
est and clearest of these images are found in dreams and 
in visual after-images. 3 A weaker sort is fancy, which 
he calls fiction: " The brain, or spirit therein, having been 
stirred by divers objects, composeth an imagination of 
divers conceptions that appeared single to the sense. 
As for example, the sense showeth at one time the figure 
of a mountain, and at another time the color of gold; but 
the imagination afterwards hath them both at once in a 
golden mountain." 4 Imagination in all its forms is ' noth- 
ing but decaying sense.' 5 " Imagination and memory are 
but one thing." 6 Expectation is of the same nature; for, 
' of our conceptions of the past we make a future.' 7 Even 
science, the " knowledge of the truth of propositions, and 
how things are called, ... is remembrance." 8 All the 
6 cognitive powers ' are thus brought into relation, directly 
or indirectly, with sensation. " There is no conception 
in a man's mind which hath not at first, totally or by 
parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense." 

The succession of experiences remains to be accounted 

1 * Human Nature/ ch. 3. 

4 Ibid. s ' Leviathan/ ch. 2. Ibid. 

i ' Hum. Nat,/ ch, 4. a Ibid., ch. 6. ' Lev./ ch. i. 


for. Sensations arise from the action of external things 
upon our organs, 1 and their succession requires no special 
psychological explanation. The sequence of imaginations 
is governed by sensation: "We have no transition from 
one imagination to another, whereof we never had the 
like before in our senses. . . . Those motions that imme- 
diately succeeded one another in the sense continue also 
together after the sense; insomuch as the former coming 
again to take place, and be predominant, the latter fol- 
loweth by coherence of the matter moved. . . . But be- 
cause in sense, to one and the same thing perceived some- 
times one thing sometimes another succeedeth, it comes 
to pass in time that in the imagining of any thing there 
is no certainty what we shall imagine next; only this is 
certain: it shall be something that succeeded the same 
before at one time or another." 2 

Trains of thought are of two different sorts: (i) Such 
as are "unguided, without design, and inconstant"; 
yet even in these, he remarks, we " may of ttimes perceive 
the way of it and the dependence of one thought upon 
another"; and (2) those "regulated by some desire 
and design." 3 Regulated trains of thought occur, either 
" when of an effect imagined we seek the causes or means 
that produce it," or "when, imagining anything what- 
soever, we seek all the possible effects that can by it be 
produced." 4 The sequence from effect to cause is com- 
mon to man and beast, while that from cause to effect 
belongs to man alone. 

Hobbes thus concludes that contiguity in previous expe- 
rience, which he terms ' coherence/ is the basis of all 
sorts of sequence of representations, but he finds it im- 

i Ibid. 2 Ch. 3. 

8 1 Ibid. In the ' Human Nature * the trains are called * casual and 
incoherent* and * orderly 1 respectively. In this work also Hobbes 
attributes the succession of conceptions to their previous * coherence 
or consequence* as sensations (ch. 4). 

* Ibid. 


possible in many cases to explain the preference of one 
association over another. Desire is a powerful agent in 
effecting the selection, 1 and so is habit. 2 Of the influence 
of habit on the succession of imaginations Hobbes says: 
" It is the nature of almost every corporal thing, being 
often moved in one and the same manner, to receive 
continually a greater and greater easiness and aptitude 
to the same motion, insomuch as in time the same be- 
cqmeth so habitual that, to beget it, there needs no more 
than to begin it." 3 Thus, man having invented language, 
" custom hath so great a power that the mind suggesteth 
only the first word, the rest follow habitually and are not 
followed by the mind." 4 It is interesting to notice that 
Hobbes emphasizes our lack of attention to the subse- 
quent terms of an habitual association train, in the same 
passage in which he insists on the strength of the cohe- 
sion between the members. 

There is only a brief allusion to fusion of images in 
Hobbes's writings. In the passage on fancy already 
quoted he recognizes the possibility of joining together 
in one imagination two images which the senses have 
given at different times. But he appears to regard the 
* coherence ' of sensations as a physical rather than a 
mental phenomenon. 

4. John Locke 

To JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704), as already noted, be- 
longs the credit of originating the phrase association of 
ideas. Locke's * Essay concerning Human Understand- 
ing' (1690) is avowedly an attempt to combat the Car- 
tesian theory of innate ideas by showing that knowledge 
arises from experience alone. It was important for this 
purpose that he should examine thoroughly the relations 
between different sorts of experience and the processes 

1 ' Lev./ ch. 3. a Hum. Nat./ ch. 5. 8 Ibid. * Ibid. 


by which one experience leads to another. It should be 
borne in mind that Locke uses the term idea to denote 
any sort of experience. He has no single term to express 
representative experience, to which the term idea was 
later restricted. 

Locke distinguishes between two sources of ideas, sen- 
sation and reflection, and calls the two classes of experi- 
ence that arise therefrom ideas of sensation and ideas of 
reflection, respectively. 1 Compared with Hobbes, he takes 
a more ' functional ' attitude. Hobbes regards sensation 
as the source of all experience^ the representative ele- 
ments are merely corruptions of the original sense ele- 
ments. According to Locke, the ' ideas of sensation ' 
are transformed into other sorts of ideas by a separate 
function or faculty, which, he calls reflection; and, fur- 
ther, there are certain ideas derived from reflection alone; 
among the latter are the ideas of the processes of ' remem- 
brance, discerning, reasoning. 72 

Ideas, or experiences, are fixed in memory by attention 
and by repetition, but still more effectually by the accom- 
paniment of pleasure and pain? The reappearance of 
ideas as recollections is sometimes voluntary, sometimes 
passive. "The mind very often sets itself on work in 
search of some hidden idea, and turns as it were the eye 
of the soul upon it; though sometimes too they start up 
in our minds of their own accord and offer themselves to 
the understanding; and very often are roused and tum- 
bled out of their dark cells into open daylight, by tur- 
bulent and tempestuous passions." * 

Locke has little to say regarding their mode of se- 
quence, whether by contiguity or similarity. In a passage 
often quoted he distinguishes between ideas that "have 
a natural correspondence and connection with one an- 
other " and " another connection of ideas wholly owing to 

* * Essay/ 4th ed., 1700, Bk. II, ch. i, 24. 2 Ibid., ch. 6. 

8 Ch. 10. *, 7- 


chance or custom." * It would not be difficult to resolve 
the former connection into similarity and the latter into 
contiguity. But Locke does not take the step. Else- 
where he says: " There comes by constant use to be such 
a connection between certain sounds and the ideas they 
stand for, that the names heard almost as readily excite 
certain ideas as if the objects themselves which are apt 
to produce them did actually affect the senses." 2 This 
again implies association by contiguity, but Locke's pur- 
pose in the discussion is only to emphasize the strength- 
ening effect of habit. Nowhere does he name or formu- 
late the principles of the sequence of ideas, as Aristotle 

On the other hand, Locke makes much of the phenom- 
enon of simultaneous association, though his contribu- 
tions to this phase seem to have been generally over- 
looked. The mind exerts its power over its simple ideas, 
he says, chiefly in three ways: (i) " Combining several 
simple ideas into one compound one," which gives us our 
complex ideas. (2) "Bringing two ideas, whether sim- 
ple or complex, together, and setting them by one another, 
so as to take a view of them at once, without uniting them 
into one " which gives us ideas of relations. (3) " Sep- 
arating them from all other ideas that accompany them 
in their real existence; this is called abstraction," and 
is the means by which all our general ideas are formed. 3 
These processes correspond closely to our modern con- 
ception of fusion, complication, and analysis. 

" The unity of the complex idea arises " from an act of 
the mind, combining those several simple ideas together, 
and considering them as one complex one consisting of 
those parts," even where they do not exist together in 
nature. 4 " All our complex ideas are ultimately resolv- 
able into simple ideas, of which they are compounded and 

II, ch. 33. 2 Bk. Ill, ch. 2, 6. 

8 Bk. II, ch. 12. 4 Ch. 22, 4. 


originally made up, though perhaps their immediate ingre- 
dients . . . are also complex ideas." 1 

Iiranother passage Locke gives the name of composi- 
tion to the operation whereby the mind 'puts together 
several of those simple ideas it has received from sensa- 
tion and reflection, and combines them into complex 
ones.' 2 " As simple ideas are observed [by the senses] 
to exist in several combinations united together, so the 
mind has a power to consider several of them united 
together as one idea; and that not only as they are united 
in external objects, but as itself has joined them to- 
gether." 3 " The mind . . . arbitrarily unites into com- 
plex ideas such as it finds convenient; whilst others that 
have altogether as much union in nature are left loose, 
and never combined into one idea, because they have no 
need of one name. It is evident, then, that the mind, 
by its free choice, gives a connection to a certain number 
of ideas, which in nature have no more union with one 
another than others that it leaves out." 4 

In view of this rather extended discussion of simul- 
taneous association, it appears certain that Locke had in 
mind the coexistence as well as the sequence of ideas 
when he wrote the historic chapter on Association. 5 

According to Locke's view association, whether con- 
cerned with the succession of ideas or their composition 
into complex experiences, is of two sorts: it is based 
either on their ' natural correspondence/ or on ( chance 
or custom. 7 The latter sort may be voluntary or invol- 
untary, and is that which leads us into all kinds of error 
in thinking. The fact of association, the union or nexus 
between different experiences, though an important factor 
in his psychological analysis, is not the chief factor in 
his psychology, since it shares the field with other funda- 
mental principles. Yet it requires only a little deeper 

i Ibid., 9. 2 ch. n, 6. s Ch. 12, i. 

4 Bk. Ill, ch, 5, 6. B Bk. II, ch. 33. 


analysis of his material to bring out explicitly the laws 
of similarity and contiguity, 

Locke seconds Hobbes's attempt to derive all complex 
experience from simple experience, but differs with him 
in deriving simple experience from reflection as well as 
from sensation. He thereby abandons the field of pure 
sensationism; and in this respect he is followed by later 
English writers. His chief historic merit in psychology, 
however, is his contribution of the term association of 
ideas, which focused the attention of future thinkers on 
this factor as a means for the empirical derivation of 
knowledge. His emphasis of habit or custom as a factor 
in association also had considerable influence in deter- 
mining subsequent analysis. 

5. George Berkeley 

GEORGE BERKELEY (1685-1753), Bishop of Clbyiie, 
lays considerable stress on the associative process, which 
he terms suggestion, and enumerates several of its modes. 
" Distance," he says, " is suggested to the mind by the 
mediation of some other idea, which is itself perceived in 
the act of seeing." x " That one idea may suggest an- 
other to the mind, it will suffice that ,they have been ob- 
served to go together, without any demonstration of the 
necessity of their coexistence." 2 , 

Berkeley divided our mental content into ideas of sense 
and ideas of imagination. " The ideas of sense are more 
strong, lively, and distinct than those of the imagination; 
they have likewise a steadiness, order and coherence, and 
are not excited at random . . . but in a regular train or 
series." 3 The ideas of imagination " are more properly 
termed ideas or images of things which they copy and 

11 New Theory of Vision/ 1709, 16; cf. 'Principles of Human 
Knowledge/ 1710, 43. 
2 ' New Theory/ 25. 


represent " * a hint toward our modern use of the term 
idea. " I find I can excite ideas in my mind at pleas- 
ure." 2 I can " by an act of my will . . . form a great 
variety of them and raise them up in my imagination," 
though " these creatures of my fancy are not altogether 
so ... permanent as those perceived by my senses." 3 
"We perceive a continual succession of ideas [both of 
sense and of imagination] ; some are anew excited, others 
are changed or totally disappear." 4 The ideas them- 
selves are inactive, so that one idea cannot produce or 
make any alteration in another, 5 but the changes are 
caused by an " incorporal active substance or spirit." 6 
The succession of one sensation to another is attrib- 
uted by Berkeley to the power of Deity, 7 while the suc- 
cession of a representation to a sensation is due to habitual 
coexistence. " From a frequently perceived connection, 
the immediate perception of ideas by one sense suggests 
to the mind others, perhaps belonging to another sense, 
which are wont to be connected with them." 8 The same 
is true of the succession of one representation to another: 
" In certain cases a sign may suggest its correlate as an 
image, in others as an effect, in others as a cause. But 
where there is no such relation of similitude or causality 
nor any necessary connection whatsoever, two things by 
their mere coexistence, or two ideas- merely by being per- 
ceived together, may suggest or signify one the other." 9 
The modes of association of successive ideas, then, accord- 
ing to Berkeley, are similarity, causality, 10 and coexist- 

2'Princ.,' 28. 

3 ' Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous/ 1713, II. 

* ' Princ.,' 26. 

5 25. 

6 26. 

s ' Dial.,' I. 

9 ' Theory of Vision Vindicated/ 1733, 39- 

10 ' Causality or some other necessary connection if there be such,' 
seems to be his meaning. 


ence or contiguity. Like Locke, Berkeley emphasizes 
the pedagogic side of association: " To the end their use 
be permanent and universal, these combinations must be 
made by rule and with wise contrivance," x 

The fact of simultaneous association is also brought 
out in Berkeley's writings. " A certain color, taste, smell, 
figure, and consistence, having been observed to go to- 
gether; are accounted a distinct thing signified by the 
name apple; other collections of ideas constitute a stone, 
a tree, a book, and the like sensible things." 2 And " men 
combine together several ideas apprehended by divers 
senses or by the same sense at different times or in differ- 
ent circumstances, but observed, however, to have some 
connection in nature either with respect to coexistence or 
succession; all which they refer to one name and consider 
one thing." 3 That is, the contiguity of sensations is the 
basis of the simultaneous association of ideas. 
' Berkeley's work transformed the problem of knowledge 
into a distinctively psychological one. Although his philo- 
sophical standpoint is idealistic, it rests on experience, 
and his analysis is more thoroughly empirical than that 
of Locke and Hobbes. His theory of visual space percep- 
tion especially called attention to the fact that our knowl- 
edge of distance away from the eye is capable of resolu- 
tion into simpler experiences; and this led his successors 
to go deeper into the analysis and synthesis of all classes 
of experience. That his idealistic metaphysics affected 
the trend of English thought comparatively little, while 
his psychological empiricism exerted so great an influ- 
ence, would lead us to regard the psychological side of 
his theory as more important historically than the philo- 
sophical side. 

i * Princ.,' 65. 2 ' Princ.,' i. * ' Dial./ III. 


6. David Hume 

DAVID HUME (1711-1776) was the first after Aristotle 
to attempt a thorough classification of the modes of asso- 
ciation. Indeed, he claims for himself entire originality 
in this field. " Though it be too obvious to escape ob- 
servation that different ideas are connected together," he 
says, " I do not find that any philosopher has attempted 
to enumerate or class all the principles of association a 
subject, however, that seems worthy of curiosity. To me 
there appear to be only three principles of connection 
among ideas, namely, resemblance, contiguity in time or 
place, and cause or effect. . , . That this enumeration 
is complete . . . may be difficult to prove to the satis- 
faction of the reader, or even to a man's own satisfaction. 
All we can do in such cases is to run over several instances, 
and examine carefully the principle which binds the dif- 
ferent thoughts to each other, never stopping till we render 
the principle as general as possible. The more instances 
we examine, and the more care we employ, the more as- 
surance shall we acquire that the enumeration which we 
form from the whole is complete." * Whether Aristotle's 
classification was unknown to Hume, or was considered 
by him a mere casual list like Berkeley's, we cannot be 
sure; but it seems probable that Hume was not aware of 
Aristotle's attempt. 

A significant contribution also, though only a verbal 
one, is Hume's alteration of the meaning of the term idea 
in the direction already suggested by Berkeley. Hume 
divides experience into impressions and ideas. Impres- 
sions consist of sensations, passions, and emotions ' which 
enter with most force' into consciousness. 2 Ideas are 
c faint images of these '; 3 they are ' copies of our impres- 

1 ' Enquiry concerning Human Understanding/ 1748. 3 ; cf. 
1 Treatise on Human Nature/ 1739, Bk. I, Ft I, 4. 
2 ' Treatise/ Bk I, Pt. I, i. *Ibid. 


sions.' 1 Ideas are of two sorts: memories and imagina- 
tions; the former a::e more lively, while the latter are not 
restricted to the order or form of our original impres- 
sions. 2 , 

Having settled his terminology, Hume proceeds' to con- 
sider the nature of the connection between successive 
ideas. " It is evident," he says, " that there is a principle 
of connection between the different thoughts or ideas of 
the mind, and that in their appearance to the memory or 
imagination they introduce each other with a certain de- 
gree of method and regularity." 3 " Were ideas entirely 
Iqpse and unconjiected, chance alone would join them." 4 
But since " the same simple ideas . . . fall regularly into 
complex ones," we must suppose " some bond of union 
among them, some associating quality by which one idea 
naturally introduces another." 5 " This uniting principle 
among ideas is not to be considered as an inseparable con- 
nection. . . . Nor yet are we to conclude that without 
it the mind cannot join two ideas. . . . But we are only 
to/egstrd it as a gentle force, which commonly prevails." 6 
It is at this point in tfae-discussioa- that he enumerates 
his three modes of association resemblance, contiguity, 
and causality. 

The most interesting part of Hume's subsequent analy- 
sis for, our purpose is his attempt to reduce the relation 
ofrtausality to an habitual experience of contiguity; for 
m the end Hume finds no justification for the conception 
of a c necessary ' relation of phenomena, such as the idea 
of causality ordinarily implies; the notion of a necessary 
connection, which Berkeley insisted upon, is based, ac- 
cording to Hume, not on knowledge or scientific reason- 

14 Enquiry/ 2. 

2 ' Treatise/ Bk. I, Pt. I, 3. Impression as used by Hume in- 
cludes what are today known as sensations and perceptions; his 
term idea includes both images and thoughts. 

3 'Enq./ 3 . 

* ' Treatise/ /. c., 4. 5 Ibid. Ibid . 


ing, but on observation and experience. 1 Th_e so-called 
causal connection, therefore, resolves itself into a mental 
relation: "reason can never show us the connection of 
one object with another, though aided by experience and 
the observation of their constant conjunction in all past 
instances." 2 The mind, therefore, in its passage from 
one idea to another, is determined not "by reason, but 
by certain principles which associate together the ideas 
of these objects and unite them in the imagination." 3 
The belief in causation, and indeed the belief of the exist- 
ence of objects, is " a lively idea related to or associated 
with a present impression." 4 The three principles which 
he adopts from Berkeley thus reduce to two: resemblance 
and (customary) contiguity in .experience. 

Hume makes only brief allusions to simultaneous as- 
sociation. Among the effects of the union or association 
of ideas, he says in the ' Treatise,' " there are none more 
remarkable than those complex ideas which are the com- 
mon subjects of our thoughts and reasoning, and generally 
arise from some principle of union among our simple 
ideas." 5 In the ' Enquiry ' the reference is still more 
vague: "Nothing is more free than the imagination of 
man; and though it cannot exceed that original stock of 
ideas furnished by the internal and external senses, it 
has unlimited power of mixing, compounding, separating, 
and dividing these ideas." 6 

Throughout his two works Humfc concerns himself par- 
ticularly with the association of representative experi- 
ences. But in one place he notes that " there is an attrac- 
tion or association among impressions as well as among 
ideas; though withij^g rema^kabfe' difference, that ideas 
are associated by resemblance, contiguity, and causation, 
and impressions only by resemblance." 7 This is a mere 

i ' Treat./ Bk. I, Pt. Ill, 3- 2 /WJ V 6. 8 Ibid. 

* PL III, 7. Bk.I,PtI, 4 . 5- 

*' Treat/ Bk II, Pt. I, 5. 


casual statement, however, and does not belong to his 
general analysis, which lags behind Hobbes and Locke in 
this respect. He alludes to an association of voluntary 
acts in the same casual way. 1 Had he brought these con- 
cepts into vital connection with the rest of his work, his 
psychology would undoubtedly deserve to be classed as 
associational. But it was reserved for Hartley to extend 
the principle of association systematically to all classes 
of mental phenomena. 

The psychology of Hume is a rounding out of Berke- 
ley's and Locke's. Starting, like them, from the empirical 
standpoint, he employs a more rigid method, especially in 
analyzing the notions of causality and necessary connec- 
tion, and advances to the epistemological conclusion that 
all knowledge is knowledge of experiences, and that the 
relations of ' things-in-themselves ? can never be known. 

Historically, his work forms the starting-point of two 
widely distinct movements in philosophy and psychology. 
The influence of Hume transformed the dogmatic atti- 
tude of the earlier German school into a critical one$ 
Kant and his successors were impelled thereby to seek 
in experience some validation of the deductions of reason. 
On the other hand the British school, which had already 
abandoned the notion of innate ideas, sought by further 
analysis of consciousness in terms of association to obtain 
the utmost out of experience. In England, philosophy 
after Hume became associationistic as well as psycho- 
logical; while the Scottish school, inaugurated by Thomas 
.Reid in 1764, followed Hume in the empirical analysis' 
of consciousness, but held that (experience gives a direct, 
intuitive knowledge of things; hence it found less need 
for the principles of association. In the line of direct 
development, Hartley's analysis is a natural extension of 
Hume's;; but the publication of his chief work followed 
closely after Hume's ' Treatise ' and was partly antici- 
l /WdL,Bk.II, Pt III, 5. 


pated in an earlier article. We must therefore attribute 
to the influence of earlier writers much of the initiative 
for Hartley's elaboration of the associative laws. 

7. Other Contributions 

The trend of thought started by Hobbes had been taken 
up in the meanwhile by numerous other English writers. 
Their contributions were for the most part confined to 
philosophy and political science. In the former sphere 
may be cited HENRY DODWELL (1641-1711), ANTHONY 
COLLINS (1676-1729), and ARTHUR COLLIER (1680- 
1732); in the latter BERNARD DE MANDEVILLE (1670- 
1733), whose ' Fable of the Bees 7 (1705) attained a very 
wide circulation for those days. 

PETER BROWNE (ca. 1665-1735), Bishop of Cork and 
Ross, deserves special mention on account of his psy- 
chological analysis. His ' Procedure, Extent and Limits 
of the Human Understanding ' (1728) is substantially in 
accord with Locke, but he rejects the latter's ' ideas of 
reflection ' and takes a purely sensationist standpoint. 

One other writer should be noticed before we pass to 
'Hartley. JOHN GAY (1699-1745), a clergyman and 
cousin of the poet of like name, sought to derive the moral 
principles from association. His work appeared annoy- 
mously in 1731, as a prefatory essay to the English trans- 
lation by Edmund Law of Archbishop William King's 
c Origin of Evil'; it was entitled ' Dissertation on the 
Fundamental Principle of Virtue/ and was acknowledged 
as Gay's in the fourth edition. In this ' Dissertation ' 
our motives to action are attributed to pleasure and pain 
man * pursues the former and avoids the latter. 5 * The 
aim being happiness, the course of action is regulated by 
the c association of ideas ' of pleasure or pain 2 and these 
associations lead to < habits/ 3 That which man "appre- 

i3; p. xxii, ed, of 1731. 2 P. xiv. *Ibid, 


hends to be apt to produce pleasure, he calls good and 
approves of." * Good and evil acts, even in the imagina- 
tion, " have a present pleasure and pain annexed to them, 
proportionable to what is apprehended to follow them in 
real existence"; 2 and certain things become "so tied 
together and associated in our minds " with pleasure or 
pain, that one cannot present itself but the other will 
occur; and the association remains even after that which 
at first gave them the connection is quite forgot. 3 Some 
of these associations are not original, but are learned " by 
imitating those whom we admire." 4 Gay's theory was 
the direct precursor of the utilitarian movements in 

In 1747 appeared a short anonymous work, entitled 
' An Enquiry into the Origin of the Human Appetites and 
Affections, shewing how .Each Arises from Association/ 
which has been attributed to Gay, 5 though the authorship 
is not definitely established. The views which it advances 
may well have been Gay's, but the frequent references 
to Gay's ' Dissertation ' are entirely impersonal. Among 
the positions taken in this ' Enquiry ' the following may 
be noticed. 

(1) Inseparable union: " The joint appearance of two 
or more ideas frequently in the mind is for the most, part 
changed into a lasting and sometimes an inseparable 
union "; 7 this is illustrated by the child's hearing the 
sound of the word nurse, and at the same time seeing the 

(2) Necessary connection: "There seems to be a nec- 
essary correspondence or connection betwixt some ideas 
and others." 8 Thus the ideas of space and time " asso- 
ciate themselves with and are inseparable concomitants 

1 3, p. xxii. 2 Ibid . 3 4 ; PP. xxx-xxxi. 4 P. xxxiii. 

5 Reprinted, 1837, by Samuel Parr in the ' Metaphysical Tracts ' ; 
the latter were printed after Parr's death, and the publisher found 
no clue to the authorship of the 'Enquiry.' 

E.g., II, 26 ; VI, 22. 7 ii, Ig . s 4It 


of all others "; * the ideas of husband and wife are a 
1 natural ' association, etc. 

(3) Coalescence of ideas: " When two or more objects 
at the same time strike the same or different organs, if 
the impressions are again and again repeated the ideas 
they excite will coalesce and unite." 2 The author also 
repeats the view given in the * Dissertation ' that some of 
our associations " we learn from imitation." 3 He calls 
attention to the decrease of pleasure and pain by repe- 
tition of the experience. The latter part of the ' Enquiry * 
is an application of association to ideational pleasure and 
pain and to the principles of morality. 

3 II,43- 



1. Hartley's General Standpoint 

DAVID HARTLEY (1705-1757) was a contemporary of 
Hume and began his work on association before -the pub- 
lication of Hume's philosophical writings. Like Locke 
he was a physician and well versed in several sciences. 
His chief work, the c Observations on Man, his Frame, 
his Duty, and his Expectations,' appeared in 1749, ten 
years after the ' Treatise ' and one year after the c En- 
quiry * of Hume. But according to the preface he had 
been for about eighteen years considering the power of 
association, having been led to do so first by hearing of 
Gay's theory, and later by reading the 'Dissertation' 
itself. Prior to the c Observations/ he published anony- 
mously a short treatise in Latin, entitled c Conjecturae 
quaedam de sensu, motu, et idearum generatione,' giving 
in concise form a psychological analysis based on asso- 
ciation. 1 

The two fundamental points in Hartley's theory of 
mind are (i) his attempt to trace a close correspondence 
between mental and neural activity in terms of vibra- 

1 The ' Conjecturae " appeared without date, and there is no direct 
evidence fixing the year, which is believed to be 1731. Its 22 
propositions and many of the corollaries and cases are ..stated in 
almost equivalent language with the first portion of the/ 'Observa- 
tions/ so there can be no question of the authorship; But the dis- 
cussion in the 'Conjecturae' is much briefer. Citations are from 
the reprint by Parr (Metaphysical Tracts) of the 'Conjecturae/ 
and from the fourth edition of the ' Observations/ London, 1801. 



tions, 1 and (2) his elaboration of all experience according 
to the principles of association. Hartley's doctrine of 
vibrations, though it suggests certain modern theories 
of psychological parallelism, was not their direct pre- 
cursor. The modes of neural activity were so little known 
in Hartley's time that it would be difficult to restate his 
doctrine in modern physiological terms. Even Joseph 
Priestley, the disciple and editor of Hartley, who upheld 
most of his other views, omitted the passages re- 
ferring to the vibration theory in his abridged edi- 
tion of the ' Observations. 7 But Hartley's theory of 
association, itself a natural development of the earlier 
attempts, was widely noticed and became the starting- 
point for later developments of the association psy- 
chology. : " 

The ' Observations on Man * is divided into two parts, 
the first comprising Hartley's psychology (" observations 
on the frame of the human body and mind "), the second 
his ethics and theology (" observations on the duty and 
expectations of mankind"). Only the former concerns 
us here. The work consists of a series of propositions, 
demonstrations, and corollaries a literary form sugges- 
tive of Spinoza, and rather surprising in a treatise so 
thoroughly grounded on empiricism. 

Hartley starts by dividing man into body and mind. 
Body is subject to investigations of the same sort " as the 
other parts of the external material world." Mind is 
" that substance, agent, principle, etc., to which we refer 
the sensations, ideas, pleasures, pains, and voluntary mo- 
tions." 2 He divides experience, or 'internal feelings, 5 
into sensations and ideas. " Sensations are those internal 
feelings of the mind which arise from the impressions 
made by external objects upon the several parts of our 

1 Compare Aristotle's use of wniw in both a physical and a 
mental sense, p. 26, 
2 ' Obs.,' Pt. I, introd. 


bodies. 1 All our other internal feelings may be called 
ideas." "The ideas which resemble sensations are 
called ideas of sensation; all the rest may therefore be 
called intellectual ideas; " and he proposes to show that 
" the ideas of sensation are the elements of which all the 
rest are compounded." Pleasures and pains are either 
sensations or ideas, all experiences being " attended with 
some degree either of pleasure or pain." 2 Hartley ex- 
pressly excludes reflection as a separate source of ideas, 
and in this way seeks to make his analysis simpler than 

In addition to the elements of experience (sensations 
and ideas), he assumes that the human mind is endowed 
with certain faculties, namely, " memory, imagination or 
fancy, understanding, affection, and will," 3 by means 
of which the elements are transformed. One must also 
consider the motor phenomena of the body in connection 
with mental experience. ^ The motions of the body, he 
says, 'are of two kinds, 'automatic and voluntary; the 
former " are those which arise from the mechanism of the 
body in an evident manner," while the latter are " those 
which arise from ideas and affections, and which there- 
fore are referred to the mind." 4 He proposes, then, (i) 
to lay down the general laws " according to which the 
sensations and motions are performed " and " ideas gen- 
erated"; (2) to apply these laws in turn to each sort 
of sensation and motion; and (3) to apply them further 
to the genesis of each particular sort of idea, such as 
memory, imagination, etc. A fourth problem, which does 
not concern -us here, is to furnish a history and analysis 
of the different classes of pleasures and pains. 5 

Sensations, according to Hartley, are due to vibrations 
in the small particles of white medullary substance of the 

^Note the advance over Hume in this distinction between the 
physical impressions or stimuli and the resulting sensations. 
*Introd. *Ibid. *Ibid. *Ibid. 


brain, spinal cord, and nerves, occasioned by " external 
objects impressed upon the senses." 1 But these vibra- 
tions are of a corporeal nature, while sensations and ideas 
are of a mental nature; and it is impossible, he affirms, 
to discover in what way the former ' cause or are con- 
nected with' the latter a statement which distinctly 
repudiates the materialistic standpoint. 

The genesis of ideas is attributed to the fact that 
" sensations, by being often repeated, leave certain ves- 
tiges, types, or images of themselves "; 2 and that sensory 
vibrations beget in the brain substance " a disposition to 
diminutive vibrations . . . corresponding to themselves." 3 
These dispositions are the physical basis of ideas, and 
the ideas themselves occur and recur as the vestiges are 
stimulated and set in vibration. Ideas thus formed are 
called simple ideas of sensation, though they "are not 
entirely simple, since they must consist of parts, both 
coexistent and successive, as the generating sensations 
themselves do." 4 The intellectual ideas are complex to a 
greater degree. 

2. Hartley's Conception of Association 

This brings Hartley to the law of association. " Any 
sensations, A, B, C, etc., by being associated with one 
another a sufficient number of times, get such a power 
over the corresponding ideas, a, b, c, etc., that any one 
of the sensations, A, when impressed alone, shall be able 
to excite in the mind b, c, etc., the ideas of the rest." 5 
The succession of sensations is due solely to the order of 
sense impressions, and is not included in the law: a sen- 
sation A, however frequently it has occurred in connec- 
tion with another sensation B, does not recall the latter, 
but only the corresponding idea b. But an idea (like a 

1 Prop. IV. 2 Prop. VIII. a Prop. IX. 

*Prop. yill. B Prop. X. 


sensation) may serve to recall an idea; thus if a number 
of ideas, a, b, c, d, etc., have occurred often together, 
then the recurrence of one of these, such as a, " will fre- 
quently bring in all the rest, b, c, d, etc., and so associate 
all of them together still farther." * 

Similarly, he finds that association includes * muscular 
motions' in the same way as ideas and sensations^, and 
finally generalizes his law so as to include "alPthree 
phenomena: "If any sensation A, idea B [b], or mus- 
cular motion C [>], be associated for a sufficient num- 
ber of times with any other sensation D, idea E [e}, or 
muscular motion F [<p], it will at last excite d, the simple 
idea belonging to the sensation D, or the very idea E 
[e], or the very muscular motion F \_cp\\ " 2 it cannot 
by association " excite the real sensation D, because the 
impression of the sensible object is necessary for this 
purpose." 3 

This is the law of successive association. Hartley finds 
that it can be extended to include simultaneous associa- 
tion of complex experiences also. Thus, if a sensation 
A be associated at different times with different sensations 
B, C 9 D, etc., one at a time, then A will at last be able to 
raise their ideas, b, c, d, etc., all together, unless, in- 
deed, they belong to the same region of the brain, in 
which case, he says, "A will raise up something inter- 
mediate between them." Again, if a compound idea, 
d + b +' c + d, due originally to a compound impres- 
sion, A + B + C + D, be called up in any way, its parts, 
by the fact of their being repeated together, tend to be 
still more closely associated. " Simple ideas of sensation 
must run into clusters and combinations by association, 

* Prop. XII, 5. 

2 Prop. XX, cor. 7. The lower case letters in brackets represent 
ideational elements, and Greek letters represent muscular equiva- 
lents; these should be substituted to carry out consistently the 
symbolism which Hartley himself suggests. 


and these will at last coalesce into one complex idea, by 
the approach and commixture of the several compound- 
ing parts; . . . many of our intellectual ideas . . 
are in fact thus composed of parts, which by degrees 
coalesce into one complex idea." x " As simple ideas run 
into complex ones, by association, so complex ideas run 
into decomplex ones by the same; but the union in the 
latter case is not so close and permanent." 2 

According to Hartley, then, the sole basis of association 
is contiguity; and he limits it to contiguity in time. 
-Sensations must be simultaneous or in immediate succes- 
sion in order that one may bring up the idea of the other; 
ideas must have occurred together or in close succession 
in order that one may bring up one or all of the others. 
His view seems to be that contiguity in space is no pait 
of the mental law: if spatially contiguous objects are 
more likely to be sensed at the same time or successively 
than objects which lie far apart, this is a physical 
phenomenon; whether the objects be distant or adjacent, 
it is the simultaneity or succession of their impressions 
that leads to the association, not their space relation. 

Hartley ignores the law of resemblance altogether. 
The only resemblance which he recognizes is that be- 
tween the sensation and its corresponding idea. An idea 
does not recall similar ideas, but the same idea is re- 
peated, and with it are associated others formerly expe- 
rienced contiguously; a sensation recalls only its corre- 
sponding idea (the faint copy of itself), or ideas con- 
tiguously related to it in the past. Hartley is able to do 
without the law of resemblance because he believes that 
complex sensations and ideas are resolvable into simpler 
elements, and that these elements are actually repeated. 
What we generally call the resemblance of one experience 
to another is for him only the presence of certain iden- 
tical simple elements in two complex experiences. 

iProp. XII, cases i, 4, 5. 8 J&tU, cor. 4. 


On the other hand the function of habit plays an im- 
portant part in his analysis of the associative process. 
Experiences, whether sensations or ideas or a group in- 
cluding both, when they have been frequently associated 
together tend to recall one another more readily; and a 
group of simultaneous experiences, by frequent recur- 
rence as an associated group, tend to a firmer union, and 
at length become a single complex experience. Habit or 
repetition, then, tends to strengthen any union founded 
on contiguity of experience, and makes the succession 
more-ready and the grouping more unitary. 

Hartley broadens the conception of association by in- 
cluding the motor side in his discussion. He holds that 
muscular movements form associations of the same sort 
as the associations between ideas, so that the recurrence 
of one tends to reinstate others which formerly succeeded 
it. And he extends this notion so as to cover a general 
association between sensations, ideas, and movements: 
the recurrence of a movement may recall an idea for- 
merly associated with it; or the recurrence of a sensation 
or idea may bring about the repetition of a movement. 

Thus Hartley is able to formulate his explanation of 
volition in psychophysical terms. The notion of an asso- 
ciation between experiences and human activity permits 
him to treat conative phenomena in the same way as 
intellectual and affective phenomena, a possibility which 
earlier analysis had overlooked. Hume had suggested 
that habit promotes facility in the performance of any 
action; but he did not analyze voluntary activity in 
terms of association, and he seems to have believed the 
mind capable of imagining and acting freely and arbi- 
trarily apart from the force of association. 1 

In Hartley for the first time we find the principle of 
association stated broadly enough to cover the entire field 
of human experience and activity. In his subsequent 

l< Treat./ Bk. I, Pt. I, 4; 'Enq.,' 8; and elsewhere. 


analysis he proceeds to apply this principle to the dis- 
covery of elementary mental phenomena, first taking up 
sensation and resolving apparently simple sensations into 
more elementary units. 

3. Hartley's Applications of the Principle 

Hartley accepts the classical view that the senses are 
five in number. Heat, cold, and pressure,' as well as 
pain, he considers qualities of the sense of touch, or c feel- 
ing.' 1 Much of his analysis of sensation is concerned 
with the vibration theory, but the principles of associa- 
tion are applied in accounting for the knowledge of space 
relations through each sense. Take touch, for instance. 
" The ends of the fingers give us so much more precise 
information concerning the tangible qualities of bodies 
than . . . the ends of the toes " on account of the 
custom of " rubbing the ends of the fingers against the 
tangible object"; 2 this is the effect of 'practice and 
habit, 7 that is, association. Again, in touch " distance is 
judged of by the quantity of motion, and figure by the 
relative quantity of distance"; 3 we learn "what is the 
distance of the part touched from the mouth, nose, shoul- 
der, elbow, or any other remarkable part, ... by pass- 
ing frequently from the mouth, nose, etc., to the part 
under consideration "; 4 " we shall also, supposing us to 
have arrived at a sufficient degree of voluntary power 
over the muscles, be able at once to put our hand upon 
the part on which the impression is made "; 5 an appli- 
cation of the motor aspect of the associative law. In 
sight " we judge of motion by the motion of the pictures 
on the retina, or of our eyes in following the objects "; 6 
position is judged by the part of the retina on which the 
stimulus falls. 

i Prop. XXIII. 2 ibid. 8 Prop. XXX. 

* Prop. XXXI. Ibid. e Prop. LVIIL 


Visual size and distance are determined chiefly by the 
picture on the retina being larger when the magnitude, in 
terms of touch, is the same, etc.; but he specifies five 
c associated circumstances ' which at times influence the 
judgment: "the number of objects which intervene, the 
degree of distinctness in which the minute parts are seen, 
the degree of brightness, the inclination of the optic axes 
[convergence], and the conformation of the eye [accom- 
modation] ." 1 Hearing gives us little notion of distance, 
except in visual terms. 2 

Hartley finds in each sense certain closely associated 
elements of pleasures and pain; and in every sensory 
experience certain ideas are bound up with sensation, so 
that the portion of the experience contributed by the 
sense is relatively small. 

Passing to complex mental phenomena, Hartley takes 
a broader view than Locke, Berkeley, or Hume. The 
chief concern of these writers being epistemological, they 
deal mainly with intellectual phenomena, while Hartley 
constantly introduces the motor side, both voluntary and 
involuntary, and devotes much attention to the analysis 
of the affective consciousness. 

The association of ideas with words is a fundamental 
operation in man, according to Hartley;, and this is the 
first type which he examines, " Words and phrases," he 
says, "must excite ideas in us by association," and by 
this means alone. 3 Words may be considered " (i) as 
impressions made upon the ear; (2) as the actions of 
the organs of speech; (3) as impressions made upon the 
eye by characters; (4) as the actions of the hand in 
writing." 4 Their use is learned in the order named. 
From an early age, " many sensible impressions and in- 
ternal feelings are associated with particular words and 
phrases, so as to give these the power of raising the cor- 

2 Proo LXVI 
sProp.LXXIX. *Ibid 


Desponding ideas." Thus, the name of a visible object 
for instance, the child's nurse " is pronounced and 
repeated by the attendants to the child more frequently 
when his eye is fixed upon the nurse than when upon 
other objects. . , . The association, therefore, of the 
sound nurse with the picture of the nurse upon the retina 
will be stronger than that with any other visible impres- 
sion, and thus overpower all the other accidental associa- 
tions." 1 The association is made more definite by 
changes in the ' non-essentials ' of the object, as when 
the nurse appears in different surroundings, different 
dress, etc.; these conflicting associations tend to neu- 
tralize one another and strengthen the main association 
with the word. The other sorts of words, the speech- 
motor, visual, and hand-motor, fix and extend the " ideas 
and significance of words and phrases by new associa- 
tions." 2 

This genetic ' analysis has a very modern flavor. In 
another place he points out the results of repeated verbal 
associations with objects; in the end the connection be- 
comes so strong that when the sensations of the objects 
are felt, " they lead by association to the words express- 
ing them, and thus we can distinguish " qualities " and 
declare in words what each is." 3 

The two phases of belief, assent and dissent, he defines 
as " those very complex internal feelings which adhere 
by association to such clusters of words as are called 
propositions" 4 Rational assent to any proposition is " a 
readiness to affirm it to be true, proceeding from a close 
association of the ideas suggested by the proposition, with 
the idea . . . belonging to the word truth"; while 
" practical assent is a readiness to act in such a manner 
as the frequent vivid recurrency of the rational assent dis- 
poses us to act." 5 

1 Prop. LXXX. 2 Prop. LXXIX. s Prop. XXXIV. 

$. LXXXVI. 5 Ibid. 


Passing on to the emotions or passions, Hartley de- 
clares them to be merely "aggregates of simple ideas 
united by association "; their constituent ideas are 
"traces of the sensible pleasures and pains" which 
" make up by their number and mutual influence upon 
one another for the faintness and transitory nature of 
each singly taken." * The will itself is only " a desire 
or aversion sufficiently strong to produce an action that 
is not automatic/ 3 It follows from this that the will is 
' mechanical/ if we understand this term to include that 
which takes place by association. 2 

It is at this point that Hartley takes up the analysis 
of memory and imagination. When we consider that not 
only Aristotle but all of Hartley's forebears made use 
chiefly of memory to expound and illustrate the princi- 
ples of association, the lateness of its appearance in 
Hartley's exposition is striking. The reason seems to 
be that while he has hitherto been discussing ideas as 
faint copies of sensations, he is now led to consider the 
concrete complex experiences which constitute actual 

Memory is "that faculty by which traces of sensa- 
tions and ideas recur, or are recalled, in the same order 
and proportion, accurately or nearly, as they were once 
presented." 3 The special problem is, how we can recol- 
lect accurately a very complex experience, say of 1000 
particulars, fitting each memory image into its proper 
place. Hartley -supposes the elementary facts to be im- 
pressed first, so that the child, for instance, will recall a 
mass of detached circumstances; gradually, by repetition 
of * clusters' of sensations, the memory is extended to 
clusters and chains of ideas, and in the same way these 
groups come to be associated by repetition, and so united 
in memory. The growth of memory is aided by verbal 
associations; and certain associations wrong ones are 

1 Prop. LXXXIX. 2 2^id. s p rop> 


prevented by " ideas of inconsistency, impossibility, and 
by methods of reasoning." 1 We distinguish a memory 
from an imagination partly by the greater vividness of 
the clusters of ideas which make up the former, but prin- 
cipally by " the readiness and strength of the associations 
by which they are cemented together." 2 And similarly 
we distinguish a remembered sensation (one which we 
know we have had before) from a new one by the fact 
that " the parts, associates, etc., of that which we remem- 
ber strike us more strongly, are suggested by each other, 
and hang together, which does not hold of the new." 8 
So too, a lessened vividness of memory suggests to us 
a greater lapse of time since the original impression oc- 
curred, and vice versa which accounts both for the 
time reference of memories and for erroneous references 
in certain cases where the.connection is disproportionately 
strengthened by interest and other influences. 

The ' faculty ' of memory thus turns out to be no new 
form of intuition; it is not a mind within the mind, or 
an " eye within the eye," to quote Hartley's simile, but 
only a name for certain distinctive experiences, differen- 
tiated by peculiarities of " vividness and connection in 
the ideas, with the other associates " peculiar to recollec- 
tion. 4 

Hartley's view of the practical working of voluntary 
recollection is stated in language not unlike Aristotle's: 
"When a person desires to recollect a thing that has 
escaped him, suppose the name of a person or visible 
object, he recalls the visible idea, or some other associate, 
again and again, by a voluntary power, the desire gen- 
erally magnifying all the ideas and associations, and thus 
bringing in the association and idea wanted at last. How- 


*Ibid. It is interesting to note the counter-criticism from an 
opposing standpoint, that there is no such "faculty as association 
at all: it is only memory with a new name'* (Blakey, 'History of 
the Philos. of Mind, 1 VoL III, p. 287). 


ever, if the desire be great, it changes the state of the 
brain and has an opposite effect, so that the desired idea 
does not recur till all has subsided perhaps not even 
then." 1 He takes pains to declare that the voluntary 
power here mentioned is " of the nature of memory," 
that is, voluntary recollection proceeds according to the 
same principles of association; and in fact, "the whole 
powers of the soul may be referred to the memory, when 
taken in a large sense," 2 namely, as an ideal copy of 

Imagination, or fancy, is "the recurrence of ideas, 
especially visible and audible ones, in a vivid manner, but 
without any regard to the order observed in past facts." 8 
" Every succeeding thought is the result either of some 
new impression or of an association with the preced- 
ing; " 4 so that the laws of association hold for the im- 
agination, except where a new sense impression interrupts 
the flow. Dreams, which he analyzes at considerable 
length, are deducible from impressions and ideas, gen- 
erally those recently received, and from their sequence 
according to associative principles; they are also depend- 
ent upon impressions due to the present " state of the 
body, particularly of the stomach and the brain." 5 The 
dreamer supposes his dream states to be real, that is, to 
be actual sensations, because he has no other reality to 
compare them with; for this reason, and because of " the 
increased heat of the brain " in sleep, dream experiences 
are more vivid than the ideas of our waking life. We 
do not notice their inconsistencies, because the associa- 
tions which would lead us in waking life to observe them 
are here excluded, and moreover we pass very rapidly 
from one thing to another. 

a. f obs. 10. 2 Obs. ii, 12. 3 p rop . 


4. Deficiencies in Hartley's System 

Strangely enough, Hartley does not follow up his dis- 
cussion of imagination and dreams with any specific 
analysis of the ' understanding ' in its highest manifesta- 
tion, namely, reasoning. Instead he proceeds to consider 
abnormalities of reason and the intellect of the lower 
animals, and this completes his survey, except for a final 
chapter, which contains an over-minute analysis of intel- 
lectual pleasures and pains. 1 The discussion of assent 
and dissent, already mentioned, takes us through judg- 
ment and belief. One would expect from so acute a 
thinker as Hartley some treatment of the relation between 
trains of imagination and trains of reasoning, if nothing 
more; and this we do not find anywhere. The relation 
between reasoning and other ideational trains is a vital 
point in the empirical psychology, and serves more than 
anything else to separate it from the rational school; the 
failure to analyze reasoning is probably the greatest de- 
fect in Hartley's work, regarded from his own standpoint. 

Hartley's discussion of volition, though more adequate 
than that of his predecessors, is scattered about in various 
places and is nowhere brought together in a summary. 
But against this deficiency must be set the fact that the 
will is brought into vital relation with muscular activity 
in general, and that the motor theory is worked out 
along associational lines for the first time. Hartley's 
treatment of sensory pleasures and pains is too brief and 
fragmentary to be satisfactory, especially when contrasted 
with his minute analysis of ideational pleasures and pains. 
There is also a certain artificiality in his analysis of 
memory: he assumes that all the elementary experiences 
must be learned first, before we can begin to recall groups 
of events and successive experiences. This view could 
scarcely satisfy those who repeated the analysis from the 


same associational point of view. At times also Hartley's 
attention is arrested by rather superficial associations, and 
he attempts to explain important phenomena in terms 
of these, instead of probing deeper. His theory of the , 
origin of shame * is an instance of this. 

Without ignoring these and other failures and uneven- 
nesses in Hartley^ analysis, we should give full credit 
to his worlT~for its tremendous advance over all his 
predecessors. His is the first attempt at a consistent and 
exhaustive application of association to all experience 
and activity. He aims to explain our entire mental life 
in terms of the fusion and succession of elementary ex- 
periences. The sole data used are sensations and their 
ideational replica. A single principle serves to account 
for the transformation of these elements into higher com- 
plexes and the transition from one conscious state to the 

5. Other XVIIIth Century Associationists 

For about seventy years after the publication of Hart- 
ley's ' Observations 7 there was only one attempt at a 
thorough analysis of consciousness on the basis of associa- 
tion. But the influence of his work and of the earlier 
formulations of the theory was manifest in many direc- 
tions. Thomas Reid and other writers of the Scottish 
movement, while they combated associationism as a doc- 
trine, nevertheless paid due regard in their psychology 
to the laws of the association of ideas as formulated by 
Hume and Hartley. More notable was the influence of 
the theory upon a number of thinkers who applied the 
associative principles to the analysis of special topics. 
Among these writers, Tucker, Priestley, Alison, and 
Erasmus Darwin deserve special mention. 

A larger group tacitly assume the results of the asso- 
ciational analysis or show its influence in their work. 
1 Prop. LXXIII. 


The utilitarian doctrine, for example, with its empirical 
development of ethics, springs from the same attitude 
toward nature as associationism and proceeds upon the 
same underlying presuppositions. It is beyond the scope 
of our study to trace the obscure and implicit connections 
which abound in the literature of that time. Reference 
should be made, however, to the writings of SMITH, 
BENTHAM, and the BELSHAMS, who manifest the spirit of 
the association school in several outlying fields without 
adding especially to the psychological analysis itself. 1 

ABRAHAM TUCKER (1705-1774), a lawyer, repeats the 
associational analysis of mind exhaustively, with some 
new features, in a voluminous work bearing the quaint 
title ' The Light of Nature Pursued ' (1768), which seeks 
to derive the principles of morality from experimental 
data. His standpoint is more in agreement with Locke 
than with Hartley, whom he criticizes particularly for 
regarding the mind as merely a passive receiver of im- 
pressions. Tucker reverts to Locke's position in attribut- 
ing ideas to reflection as well as sensation. 

Association occurs with both classes of ideas. " From 
ideas thus received by sensation and reflection," he says, 
" there grows a new stock, framed up of these as of so 
many materials, by their uniting together in various as- 
semblages and connections." 2 Tucker gives the generic 

1 Adam Smith (1723-1790) in both economics and ethics; see 
'The Wealth of Nations' (1776), and 'Theory of Moral Senti- 
ments' (1761). Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) in jurisprudence and 
ethics; see especially his 'Principles of Morals and Legislation* 
(1789), and 'Table of the Springs of Action/ Rev. Thomas 
Belsham (1750-1829), an ardent admirer of Hartley, in philosophy 
and ethics. In his 'Elements of the Philosophy of the Mind and 
of Moral Philosophy' (1801) he endeavors to reduce the basis of 
association to pleasure (pp. 208-9). His brother, William Belsham 
(1752-1827), furnishes less systematic contributions in the same 
field: see his 'Essays, Philosophical and Moral* (1799), especially 
essays II, X, and XI. See also the anonymous work entitled 
' Essay on the Nature and Existence of the Material World,* which 
appeare,d in 1781. 

2 Pt. I, ch. 9, art. I, 2d ed. 


name of combination to this juncture of ideas, which he 
says includes two separate modes, association and compo- 
sition. Thus Tucker was the first to recognize explicitly 
the difference between a union without alteration of the 
components, and the sort of connection wherein the ideas 
so " melt together as to form one single complex idea." * 
The latter process, composition, or in modern terms 
fusion, was afterwards developed into the theory of 
mental synthesis or mental chemistry. Tucker's state- 
ment of this principle is perhaps his most important con- 
tribution to the association theory: " A compound may 
have properties resulting from the composition which do 
not belong to the parts singly whereof it consists." 2 

Tucker considers simultaneous combination an earlier 
manifestation than successive combination. The rise of 
the latter he attributes to the fact that clusters of simul- 
taneous ideas are generally too large to be taken in by 
the mind together; thus only a part of the clusters appear 
at first, but on account of their connection other parts 
or groups are immediately afterwards called up. 3 There 
is an * attraction * between ideas, so that the preceding 
idea generally determines what associate shall appear; 4 
and the association, once formed, cements the ideas to- 
gether. Ideas bearing reference to some purpose in view 
tend in this way to appear in regular succession; and 
such a succession he terms a train. 5 " Our trains once 
well formed, whatever suggests the first link, the rest 
follow readily of their own accord." 6 As assemblages of 
ideas form trains, so trains become connected into 
" courses of thinking." 7 He notes, moreover, that often 
some of the middle terms of a train fall out as the result 
of frequent repetition the doctrine of lapsed links. 8 

Reasoning, according to Tucker, is not a separate 

* Ibid, 2 Ch. 12, art i; cf. ch. i, art. 2. 3 Ch. 10, art I. 

4 Ch. 9, art. 14. 5 Ch. 10, art. 3. c Art. 4. 

7 Art i. 8 Art. 13. 


faculty, but is the " discerning of the agreement of two 
ideas between themselves, by their agreement with some 
third." x The mental processes usually attributed to the 
separate faculties of apprehension, judgment, and ratio- 
cination, he believes, may be completely described in 
terms of perception, 2 and there are in reality only two 
modes of perception imagination and understanding, 
both of which are " acquired by use and practice, . . . 
the latter growing out of the former." 3 We need not 
follow him in his application of this analysis to moral 

JOSEPH PRIESTLEY (1733-1804) began his career as a 
clergyman, but left this calling on account of a change in 
theological views. He became a student of Hartley's 
work and a follower of his theories. 4 In 1775 he pub- 
lished an abridged edition of the ' Observations on Man/ 
to which he prefaced a series of three essays, defending 
and expounding Hartley's theory of association. In par- 
ticular he defends the view that sensation is the only 
source of ideas. 5 He supplements Hartley's analysis by 
tracing out the elements of a number of very complex 
ideas, such as the notions of force, time, right and 
wrong, etc. 

Priestley reiterates Tucker's view that mental phe- 
nomena are altered by fusion. As color-mixing, he says, 
produces apparently simple effects of color, so " from 
the combination of ideas, and especially very dissimilar 
ones, there may result ideas which, to appearance, shall 
be so different from the parts of which they really con- 
sist, that they shall no more be capable of being analyzed 
by mental reflection than the idea of white." 6 A whole 
mass of ideas can so completely grow into one, that they 

!Ch. ii, art 13. 2 Art. 36. Ch. 12, art. I. 

4 Priestley was for many years interested in chemistry, and is 
noted for having been the first to accomplish the separation of 

s Essay 3. *Ibid. 9 'Misc. Works/ III, p. 190, ed. of 1818. 


appear to be only a single idea. Priestley abandoned 
Hartley's vibration theory; but on the other hand he 
assumes that mental phenomena are of the same nature 
as the brain states which underlie them; this materialistic 
assumption exposed him to much violent criticism, which 
was directed against Hartley as well. The odium 
theologicum was still very potent, and probably for this 
reason Priestley's support of Hartley hindered rather than 
helped the progress of associationism. 

ARCHIBALD ALISON (i757-*%39), a clergyman, is the 
author of a work on esthetics, entitled ' Essays on the 
Nature and Principles of Taste ' (1790), which was much 
studied during the early part of the nineteenth century. 
In it he traces out the feelings of beauty, sublimity, and 
the like, and attributes them to associations of ideational 
terms with sensations. Matter, he affirms, arouses sen- 
sations, not emotions; x the latter arise only through the 
" exercise of the imagination." 2 Alison set himself the 
task of examining all varieties of experience that arouse 
the esthetic feelings in literature, painting, sculpture, etc., 
and endeavored to show that they are based on associated 
elements. He makes no explicit reference to Hartley in 
the ' Essays,' and quotes Locke only once, 3 when he bor- 
rows a casual anecdote from him. But though he men- 
tions writers of the Scottish school with approval, his own 
position is thoroughly associationistic, and he was largely 
instrumental in familiarizing students of art and general 
readers with that conception of mental processes. 

The ' Zoonomia ' (1794) of ERASMUS DARWIN 4 (1731- 
1802) is an exhaustive treatise in several volumes on 
physiology and medicine. Though chiefly concerned with 
biological questions, it includes a psychophysical theory 
of experience (Pt. I) which is thoroughly associationistic. 
Darwin puts ideas and motion in parallel, and makes asso- 

1 Essay II, ch. i, p. 126, ist ed. z I, ch. 2, p. 49 ; cf. p. 410. 

3 P. 210. * Grandfather of Charles Darwin. 


ciations of ideas the counterpart of associations of mus- 
cular movements. He attributes to the sensorimotor 
being four faculties irritation, sensation, volition, and 
association, which give rise to four classes of ideas and 
movements; the fourth class is less fundamental than 
the others. 

Each of the first three sorts of ideas and movements 
may be associated. 1 "All animal motions which have 
occurred at the same time or in immediate succession be- 
come so connected that when one of them is produced 
the other has a tendency to accompany or succeed it." 2 
The same is true of ideas, which are never received 
singly, but always in combination: " those which belong 
to the same sense seem to be more easily combined into 
synchronous tribes than those which were not received by 
the same sense." 3 We have the power of increasing 
the degree of combination by voluntary repetition of the 
ideas, or by repetition of the original sensation.* 

These four writers fill the gap between Hartley and 
Brown. Tucker was the only one of the four who at- 
tempted a thorough analysis, and this marked a return 
to Locke rather than an advance. Yet they were instru- 
mental in spreading the notion of association in scientific 
as well as popular circles. Tucker spoke to the preacher 
and moralist; Alison to the artist and man of letters; 
Darwin to the naturalist and physician; Priestley to the 
physical scientist. The attacks of the Scottish school 
also drew attention to the association concept and led to 
further study. But the charges of materialism and 
atheism made many hesitate to adopt the associational 
standpoint, or even to employ its most evident principles, 
till Brown, whose philosophy was free from any such 
odium, cleared it of the stigma. 

I Sec. 10. 2 Sec 4, art 7. 

8 IS, i, i. * Ibid., 2. 


6. Thomas Brown's Standpoint 

THOMAS BROWN (1778-1820), who held the chair of 
moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, was a 
pupil of Dugald Stewart, through whose teachings he was 
grounded in the traditions of Reid and the Scottish school. 
Later he broke away from the psychology of this school, 
and in his ' Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human 
Mind' (1820) adopts a standpoint akin to the English 
movement. His analysis of consciousness is, in fact, a 
combination of the Scottish and associational viewpoints. 
With the former writers he regards mind as " a substance 
possessing certain qualities, susceptible of various affec- 
tions or modifications, which, existing successively as 
momentary states of the mind, constitute all the phe- 
nomena of thought and feeling." * These modifications 
he attributes to perception, conception, memory, imagina- 
tion, and rational processes. 

But unlike the Scottish psychologists Brown does not 
consider th mental processes special faculties or powers 
of mind. He makes them, like Hartley, manifestations 
of the workings of association. Thus, perception is not 
" a peculiar mental power," but a result of " the power 
of association, by which one feeling suggests or induces 
ether feelings that have formerly coexisted with it." 2 
He prefers to call this power suggestion rather than 
association, a point which he argues at great length. 

Our consciousness, he claims, is " far from indicating 
any process of association; and all of which we are con- 
scious at the time of the suggestion itself is the mere 
succession of one feeling to another not certainly of any 
prior process on which this succession has depended." 3 
There is no ' union/ as the term association would imply, 
among the original sensations; and the * union ' of Intel- 

1 Lect. i, Vol. I, p. 13. 2 Lect. 25, I, p. 379. 

3 Lect, 40, II, p. 92. 


lectual states consists merely in the fact that they succeed 
one another in accordance with the original coexistence or 
succession of sensations. 1 

Brown emphasizes particularly the fact of succession 
among ideas, and his use of the term suggestion is partly 
designed to exclude the notion of coexistence and union 
among them. The basis of suggestion he believes to be 
'reducible to a single law, proximity; he does " not con- 
sider any influence distinct from that of the mere exist- 
ence of the original feelings themselves in their state of 
proximity to be indicated by our consciousness, or at all 
necessary to the subsequent suggestions." 2 

Before going further we should note a fundamental dif- 
ference between Brown's standpoint and that of Hartley, 
which is really the basis of their disagreement as to the 
terms association and suggestion and of other differ- 
ences which will appear. Hartley, we must remember, 
based mental association on certain supposed relations 
among the physical conditions underlying consciousness. 
Brown's analysis, on the other hand, was concerned solely 
with the mental phenomena themselves. He aimed to 
describe the sequence of ideas in purely mental terms, 
without reference to the physical concomitants of the 
process. It is not the psychologist's province, he insists, 
to consider the physiological happenings in the nervous 
system or elsewhere. Brown differs on this point not only 
with Hartley but with nearly all later associationists. His 
attitude is a natural result of his early training. Some 
writers have refused to consider him an associationist on 
account of his neglect of the physical side. Yet so rigidly 
and thoroughly does he carry out his principle of sug- 
gestion which is nothing else but association with all 
physical reference removed that he seems unquestion- 
ably to belong among the exponents of this doctrine. 

At the same time the consequences of this ultra- 

i Ibid,, pp. 87-8. 2 Ibid., p. 91. 


psychological attitude are far-reaching. It alters not only 
the conception of the associative process, but the distinc- 
tion between presentative and representative experiences. 
Other associationists regard ideas as revivals or faint 
copies of anterior sensory experiences; for Brown, repre- 
sentative phenomena constitute an entirely distinct class 
and may not properly be regarded as " mere sensations 
modified or transformed." * Not being derivatives, they 
are no more explicable than sensations: "We may see 
innumerable objects in succession; we may conceive in- 
numerable objects in succession. But we see them be- 
cause we are susceptible of vision; we conceive them 
because we have that susceptibility of spontaneous sug- 
gestion by which conceptions arise after each other in 
regular trains." 2 

7. Brown's Laws of Suggestion 

As already stated, -Brown regards suggestion as a suc- 
cession based on some previous proximity. " All sugges- 
tion, as I conceive, may, if our analysis be sufficiently 
minute, be found to depend on prior coexistence, or at 
least on such immediate proximity as is itself, very prob- 
ably, a modification of coexistence." 3 But this funda- 
mental principle he amplifies into three Primary Laws of 
Suggestion, namely, resemblance, contrast, and nearness 
in time and space,* thus harking back to the original clas- 
sification of Aristotle. His discussion of these laws is 
wholly by way of illustration and adds little to earlier 
analysis. The reintroduction of contrast as a separate 
form of association is a natural consequence of his stand- 
point: there is no need of reducing it to similarity and 
contiguity if we have no physiological facts to explain; 
and there is little use in attempting such a reduction by 
means of purely mental analysis. 

1 Lect. 33, 1, p. 517- 2 Lect. 41, II, p. 105. 

3 Lect. 35, II, P- ii. 4 Lects, 35-37. 


Probably the most important contribution of Brown to 
the association doctrine is his formulation of certain Sec- 
ondary Laws of Association (or Suggestion). In these 
he seeks to enumerate the circumstances which " modify 
the influence of the primary laws, in inducing one asso- 
ciate rather than another." * They are nine in number: 

(1) The relative duration of the original sensations: 
" The longer we dwell on objects, the more fully do we 
rely on our future remembrance of them." 2 

(2) Their relative liveliness: "The parts of a train 
appear to be more closely and firmly associated as the 
original feelings have been more lively." 3 

(3) Relative frequency: "The parts of any train are 
more readily suggested in proportion as they have been 
more frequently renewed." 4 

(4) Relative recency:.. " Events which happened a few 
hours before are remembered when there is a total f orget- 
fulness of what happened a few days before." 5 

(5) Their coexistence in the past with fewer alterna- 
tive associates: " The song which we have never heard 
but from one person can scarcely be heard again by us 
without recalling that person to our memory." 6 

(6) Constitutional differences between individuals 
modify the primary laws: They give " greater propor- 
tional vigor to one set of tendencies of suggestion than 
to another." 7 

(7) Variations in the same individual, "according to 
the varying emotion of the hour." 8 

(8) " Temporary diversities of state," as in intoxica- 
tion, delirium, or ill-health. 9 

(9) Prior habits of life and thought the influence of 
inground tendencies upon any given situation, however 
new. or irrelevant the experience may be. 10 

i Lect. 37, II, p. 44. 2 JUd. 8 Ibid. * P. 45- 

s/foU *Ibid. 7 P. 46- 8 P. SO. 

8 P. Si- 10 P- 52. 


According to Brown the primary laws " are founded on 
the mere relations of the objects or feelings to each 
other," * while the secondary laws indicate the influence 
exerted by circumstances or conditions upon the par- 
ticular application of the primary laws. 

The first four of the secondary laws are summed up 
in a single statement: "When the two associate feelings 
have both (together or in immediate succession) been of 
long continuance, very lively, very frequently renewed in 
the same order, and that recently, the tendency to sug- 
gest each other is most powerful." 2 The fifth law might 
well have been included in this statement, and the remain- 
ing laws might readily have been summed up in another 

8. Brown's Analysis of Mental Phenomena 

Brown's departure from the Scottish faculty psy- 
chology is shown in his structural interpretation of mind. 
Rejecting the division into intellectual and active powers 
into understanding and will he regards all mental 
phenomena as states (or affections) of mind, and divides 
these states first of all into external and internal? The 
former are " the result of the laws both of matter and 
of mind implying in external objects a power of affect- 
ing the mind, as well as in the mind a power of being 
affected by them ";' the latter " result from the suscepti- 
bilities of the mind itself. . . . The affections of the one 
class arise because some external object is present; the 
affections of the other class arise because some previous 
change in the states of the mind has taken place." 4 The 
external affections are " so very simple as to require but 
little subdivision." The internal affections form two 
great classes: "our intellectual states of mind, and our 

1 P. 53- 2 Ibid., p. S3. 

8 Lect. 16, I, p. 249. * Ibid. 


emotions" * Brown regards the emotions as for the most 
part active/ but he is unwilling to class them specifically 
as active powers or states, partly because our intel- 
lectual states are essential elements in the activity of the 
emotions, partly because some of the emotions " cannot 
with propriety in any case be termed active such as 
grief, joy, astonishment ... the feelings of beauty and 
sublimity," etc. 2 

Brown's examination of the various states is lengthy, 
and for the period in which he wrote it is very complete. 
But at times he is lacking in scientific sequence, and 
owing to his constant reiteration and his wealth of illus- 
tration it is difficult to grasp his analysis in its entirety. 
The main point of interest in his review of sensations, or 
external states of mind, is the distinction which he makes 
between the sensations proper of each sense, and the asso- 
ciated feelings of resistance and extension, which consti- 
tute our knowledge of the qualities of matter. 3 Resist- 
ance in itself, and extension as known through resistance, 
are due not to touch, but to the muscles. 4 Perception is 
"only another name ... for the result of [these] 
associations and inferences." 5 We shall see the impor- 
tance of this analysis as developed by later writers. 

His treatment of the internal states is closely bound 
up with the discussion of suggestion, to which he at- 
tributes them. As a result of his anti-physiological atti- 
tude he is led to treat of conception before he takes up 
memory, regarding the former as a simpler type of 
experience. Our memories, in fact, are "nothing more 
than conceptions united with the notion of a certain rela- 
tion of time." e Certain circumstances, such as entering 
a friend's house, suggest that friend. 7 This idea he re- 
gards as a conception; it only "becomes a remembrance 
when we combine with it this feeling of relation the rela- 

1 Ibid., p. 251. 2 Ibid. 3 Lects. 22-25. 4 Lect. 23, I, Pp. 345-7- 
5 Lect. 25, I, p. 382. Lect 41, II, p. 107. T P. 104. 


tion which constitutes our notion of time." * Conception 
itself is simple suggestion. 2 Neither conception nor 
memory are voluntary acts of mind: ideas "arise un- 
called; . . . what is termed voluntary recollection . . . 
is nothing more than the coexistence of some vague and 
indistinct desire with our simple trains of suggestion." 3 
So too, imagination is not "a voluntary selection and 
combination of images," 4 but the result of simple sug- 
gestion: various complex conceptions "may exist to- 
gether, forming one complex feeling, and . . . one part 
of this complexity may suggest one conception while 
another part suggests a different conception, that may in 
like manner unite and form one harmonizing whole," 5 
which is an imagination. 

This is followed by a discussion of habit, which (with- 
out any apparent reason) Brown makes coordinate with 
conception, memory, and imagination. Habit may be 
considered in two lights, as it " produces a greater tend- 
ency to certain actions, and as it occasions greater facility 
and excellence in those particular actions." c The former 
aspect, the heightened tendency, he attributes to sugges- 
tion: " If feelings tend to produce other feelings in con- 
sequence of former proximity or coexistence, it would 
indeed be most wonderful if habitual tendencies were not 
produced." 7 His thought seems to be that when the 
same idea-and-act has occurred frequently in similar con- 
nections, it is on that account more likely to lead to the 
same succeeding idea-and-act. On the mere doctrine of 
chances one may well believe this; but his rejection of 
the physiological side debars him from using the addi- 
tional argument which other associationists appeal to, 
namely, that the repetition itself produces a greater tend- 
ency to reinstate the sequence on account of the modifica- 
tions in the brain state which it induces, whereby the 

1 P. 108. 2 p. I04 . 3 p. II4 . 4 Lect. 42, II, p. 125. 

5 P. 127. Lect. 43, II, p. 141. 7 p, I44 . 


connection is rendered more close. Brown has already 
mentioned frequency as one of the secondary laws of 
suggestion, and the statement that habit produces a 
greater tendency is only a reiteration of this generaliza- 

More satisfactory is his attempt to describe the greater 
facility of performance produced by habit. In striving to 
perform a certain act for the first time, we make all sorts 
of mistakes, " in our ignorance of the particular muscles 
and particular quantities of contraction. ... By fre- 
quent repetition, however, we gradually learn and remedy 
our mistakes. ... At almost every repetition either 
some muscle is left at rest which was uselessly exerted 
before, or the degree of contraction of the same muscles 
is brought nearer and nearer to the desired point." 1 
Brown does not attempt to show how the useless contrac- 
tions fall out, but he might have done so without depart- 
ing from his introspective standpoint. 2 His view that 
we may " reduce the habit itself to the mere power of 
association," 8 however, is rather a reversal of the ordi- 
nary associational position. 

9. Brown's Theory of Relative Suggestion 

Brown distinguishes two sorts of suggestion: simple 
and relative. Simple suggestion, as already noted, is the 
tendency of the mind, on the appearance of a certain ex- 
perience, to call up some other idea by reason of their 
previous proximity. Perception and the representative 
processes just mentioned belong to the province of simple 
suggestion. Neither in perception as such, nor in con- 

iPp. 144-5. 

2 He would say that the proper contractions lead to the per- 
formance of the act, and hence to sensations corresponding to the 
previous idea, which is thus reinstated ; while the inappropriate con- 
tractions do not reinforce the idea, and are therefore more likely to 
fall out. 

Lect. 37, II, p. 52. 


ception, memory, etc., do we attain the idea of a relation 
existing between different objects of experience. This 
idea of relation is due to relative suggestion. 

Relative suggestion is "the tendency of the mind 
... by which, on perceiving or conceiving objects 
together, we are instantly impressed with certain feelings 
of their mutual relation." * These " feelings of relation 
are states of mind essentially different from our simple 
perceptions or conceptions of the objects that seem to us 
related, or from the combinations which we form of these 
in the complex groupings of our fancy." 2 They are due 
to " an original tendency or susceptibility of the mind, 
by which, on perceiving together different objects, we are 
instantly, without the intervention of any other mental 
process, sensible of their relation in certain respects." 8 

Brown divides the relations so experienced into two 
general classes: relations of (i) coexisting, and (2) suc- 
cessive objects or feelings. Under coexistence he specifies 
position, resemblance, degree, proportion, and compre- 
hensiveness or part and whole; 4 under succession he 
mentions sequence (casual priority and posteriority), and 
causality (antecedent and consequent). 5 The rational 
processes of judgment, reasoning, and abstraction he re- 
duces to cases of relative suggestion." 6 

In his treatment of relative suggestion Brown departs 
from the association standpoint. The idea of relation is, 
according to him, an entirely new experience; he does not 
attempt to derive it or in any way correlate it with past 
experiences, as he does in the case of simple suggestion. 

Brown makes an important contribution to mental 
analysis in pointing out the distinction between our 
experience of related things and our awareness of the 
relation. This distinction brought to light a new prob- 
lem, which later associationism was called upon to solve. 

1 Lect. 51, II, p. 275. 2 Lect. 45, II, p. 169. 8 Ibid. 

4 Lect. 46, II, p. 183. Lect. 51, II, p. 267. 6 Ibid. 


Brown's own solution is not associational: he goes over 
to intuitionism when he attributes our awareness of rela- 
tions to an original tendency of the mind. Here again it 
is his ultra-psychological attitude that determines his 
answer. Had he been concerned with physiological cor- 
relates, he would have assumed some plausible process of 
nerve activity, taking place concomitantly with the rise 
of these new ideas of relation; or he might claim that the 
ideas of relation are not really new types of experience, 
but merely modifications of the experience of related 
sensations. Instead, he makes them something quite dif- 
ferent from any other element of experience. 1 

According to Brown the complex mental states which 
are formed through simple and relative suggestion are 
not merely c compositions,' but fusions as well. As we 
have seen, earlier writers, such as Tucker and Priestley, 
also conceived of complex experiences as being modified 
so that they become somewhat different from their con- 
stituent elements. Brown states this view very explicitly: 
" In this spontaneous chemistry of mind, the compound 
sentiment that results from the association of former feel- 
ings has in many cases, on first consideration, so little 
resemblance to these constituents of it, as formerly 
[existed] in their elementary state, that it requires the 
most attentive reflection to separate ... the assem- 
blages which even a few years have produced." 2 This 
notion of mental chemistry was taken up and elaborated 
by John Stuart Mill and other writers. 

Brown's analysis is for the most part very acute, but 
its value is considerably impaired by his rambling style 
of presentation. His illustrations and many of his argu- 
ments are over-rhetorical. The lectures show plainly 

1 The present writer considers the rise of 'awareness of differ- 
ence* in experience the most difficult problem that confronts the 
association psychology. We shall see how later associationists have 
attempted to explain it. 

2 Lect 10, I, p. 156, 


that they were addressed to pupils rather than mature 
thinkers. There is also a constant tendency to emphasize 
the direct agency of Deity, which does not, however, im- 
pair the thoroughness of his insight into the connections, 
of- -mental phenomena. His influence' on later writers 
appears to lie especially in four directions: (i) in calling 
attention to the c secondary ' or quantitative laws of 
association; (2) in giving prominence to the muscle sense 
and experiences derived therefrom; (3) in calling atten- 
tion to the experience of ' relation'; and (4) in em- 
phasizing the chemical mode of composition as an 
analogy applicable to the phenomena of mental fusion. 



1. James Mill 

THE division of the association movement into periods 
should not be regarded as sharp and absolute. In pass- 
ing from Hobbes and Locke to Hartley, or from Hartley 
and Brown to the Mills, we. find no great break. A 
gradual development and broadening of the fundamental 
conceptions and a progressive extension of the analysis 
has already been noted. The same is true in the transi- 
tion to the later period. Yet there appear to be suffi- 
cient grounds for grouping the c pure associationists ' into 
two chronological periods. 

The writings of the elder Mill mark the beginning of 
a new stage of development. The period examined in the 
preceding chapter is marked by a groping after funda- 
mental terms, and by a somewhat desultory or at least 
unsystematic analysis. The writers of the later period 
assume the fundamental notions of association, and their 
task is to make the analysis more orderly and far-reach- 
ing. It must be remembered that the chief concepts of 
the association theory were now well known to English 
readers; that associationism constituted one of the 
dominant types of philosophy; and that systems of 
ethics, esthetics, jurisprudence, economics, and even his- 
tory and theology had been formulated upon an asso- 
ciational basis, either avowedly or tacitly. 1 The time was 

1 By the writers mentioned in Chapter III Tucker, Alison, Adam 
Smith, Bentham and their followers. Among the numerous later 



ripe for a new analysis not merely based on the prin- 
ciple of association, but conducted in that sequential way 
which association itself invites. 

JAMES MILL (1773-1836), in early life a clergyman of 
the Scottish Church and later employed in the home office 
of the East India Company, undertook this work, and 
infused new life into the association movement. His 
c Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind ' 
(1829) is the classic of nineteenth century associa- 
tionism, as Hartley's ' Observations ' is the classic of the 
eighteenth century. Taken in connection with the edi- 
torial notes of Bain and the younger Mill, and interpreted 
in the light of Bain's two volumes on psychology, it con- 
stitutes the most representative treatment of the associa- 
tion psychology. 

James Mill accepts Hartley's conception of mental 
phenomena rather than Brown's. He gives due emphasis 
to the activity of the brain and nervous system, and 
makes free use of the physiological concomitants to ex- 
plain and illustrate the principles of mental activity. 
But the influence of Brown's work is shown in many 
parts of his analysis, as well as by several specific refer- 
ences. 1 

Mill adopts a fundamental classification of mental data 
into sensations and ideas, which he considers " two classes 
of feelings," 2 and begins with an investigation of sensa- 
tion. Besides the traditional five senses he notices three 
other sorts of sensation sensations of disorganization 

writers may be mentioned Sir James Mackintosh (1765-1832) in 
ethics; John Austin (1790-1859) in jurisprudence; George Grote 
(1794-1871), who contributed to the annotated edition of James 
Mill's 'Analysis'; James Martineau (1805-1900) in ethics; E. A. 
Freeman ' (1832-1892) in history; Sir Henry J. S. Maine (1822- 
1883) in jurisprudence; William B. Carpenter (1812-1885) and 
Henry Maudsley (1835-1918) in physiology. 

* E.g., ch. I, 7 ; see also references to Brown in preface to J. S. 
Mill's edition of the 'Analysis/ Page citations below are to this 
edition (London, 1878, 2d ed.). 

2 Ch. 2, p. 52. 


(physical pain), muscular sensations (which he carefully 
distinguishes from tactile), and sensations in the alimen- 
tary canal (corresponding roughly to what are now 
termed organic or systemic sensations). 

The experiences derived from these senses are by no 
means simple. " We can not think of the sensation of 
color, without at the same time thinking of something 
colored of surface or extension, a notion derived from 
another sense. . . . Some of the things suggested by the 
sensations of sight, as extension and figure, are suggested 
so instantaneously that they appear to be objects of sight, 
things actually seen." x Our notion of any sense is really 
a very complex idea, including as ingredients (i) the idea 
of the organ, (2) the idea of the sensation, (3) the idea 
of the object of sensation, (4) the idea of synchronous 
order of the first two, and (5) the idea of a successive 
order of the third. 2 Mill's discussion of sensation is very 
brief, touching only upon the general points needed fur- 
ther along in his analysis. 

The distinction between sensation and idea is introduced 
by the notion of primary memory or the after-image: 3 
" After I have seen the sun, and by shutting my eyes see 
him no longer, I can still think of him. I still have a 
feeling, the consequence of the sensation, which, though 
I can distinguish it from the sensation, ... is yet more 
like the sensation than anything else can be; so like, that 
I call it a copy, an image, of the sensation; sometimes a 
representation or trace of the sensation."* This copy 
or trace is conveniently called an idea; and for the 
process he coins the term ideation, analogous to sensa- 
tion. 5 Sensations and ideas are the " primary states of 
consciousness "; 6 but the sensation is more fundamental 

i Ch. I, 3, pp. 21-2. . 2 Ch. I, p. 19. 

8 He probably refers to both, and has in mind the passage from 
one to the other. ^ , 

*Ch. 2, p. 52. P- 53. *P. 62. 


than the idea, inasmuch as the second occurs " only when 

the first has previously existed." * 

Mill does not accept the traditional view that ideas 
are always fainter than sensations, though he believes this 
to be usually the case. 2 Some ideas are fainter than 
others a condition which is due quite as much to the 
relative remoteness of the original sensation as to the 
relative vividness of that sensation; 3 but it is difficult, he 
says, to compare the relative vividness of sensations, ex- 
cept when they are pleasurable or painful. 4 This conclu- 
clusion is probably due to his confusing distinctness with 
intensity; he finds that some ideas have as great dis- 
tinctness or prominence in consciousness as some sensa- 
tions, and from this he concludes that they are in no 
degree fainter. 

2. James Mill's Conception oj Association 

James Mill now passes to the problem of association. 
The order of occurrence of ideas depends on the order 
of sensations, which is conditioned only by " the order 
established among what we call the objects of nature," 5 
Sensations occur in synchronous order and in successive 
order^ and "it so happens that . , . most of those 
which are observed synchronously are frequently ob- 
served synchronously, most of those which are observed 
successively are frequently observed successively." 6 
"Our ideas spring up, or exist, in the order in 
which the sensations existed of which they are the 
copies." 7 "This is the general law of the association 
oj ideas, by which term . . . nothing is here meant to 
be expressed but the order of occurrence." 8 Where sen- 
sations have occurred for the most part together, such 
as the smell, appearance, and contact of a rose, 9 their 

*P. 55- 2 CL3, p. 84. 3 P.8s. 4 P. 84. 5 Ch-3,p.7i. 
P. 77- 7 P.7& *IKd. . 'P. 79 


ideas also spring up together; where they have occurred 
for the most part in succession, as in the repetition of 
the numbers one, two, three, etc., 1 their ideas also arise 
in succession. 

Mill's detailed exposition of the conditions of associa- 
tion is in striking contrast with the brevity of his pre- 
ceding analysis. " A far greater number of sensations," 
he says, "are received in the successive than in the 
synchronical order; " and of our ideas, an infinitely 
greater number rise in the successive order. 2 When we 
speak of the succession of ideas, we are not to suppose 
that any power resides in the earlier over the later; they 
are " only antecedent and consequent, with the additional 
idea that such order is not casual, but to a certain degree 
permanent." 3 Of two successive feelings, the suggesting 
and the suggested, the antecedent may be either sensation 
or idea, the consequent is always an idea. 4 Often in an 
association, " the antecedent is of no importance farther 
than as it introduces the consequent. In these cases the 
consequent absorbs all the attention and the antecedent 
is instantly forgotten." 5 Thus, when we are listening to 
a conversation the sounds which we hear are obliterated 
in the thoughts to which they give rise. 6 

There are degrees in association just as there are de- 
grees in sensations and degrees in ideas. Mill finds three 
conditions which modify the degree: An association is 
said to be stronger than another when it is (i) "more 
permanent," (2) "performed with more certainty," and 
(3) " performed with more facility." 7 " The causes of 
strength in association seem all to be resolvable into two: 
the vividness of the associated feelings, and the frequency 
of the association." 8 These two principles of vividness 
and frequency are Mill's substitute for Brown's secondary 

R 80. 2 P. 81. *Ibid. 

Pp. 98-100. P. 101. 7 P. 82. 8 P. 83. 


After frequent repetition of an association, the ideas 
" sometimes spring up in such close combination as not 
to be distinguishable"; 1 they "seem to run into one 
another, to coalesce, as it were, and out of many to form 
one idea; which idea, however in reality complex, appears 
to be no less simple than any one of those of which it 
is compounded." 2 Thus, the idea of extension is derived 
from the muscular feelings that arise in connection with 
the movement of different parts of the body; 3 and our 
ideas of external objects (for example, a tree) are formed 
from "the ideas of a certain number of sensations re- 
ceived together so frequently that they coalesce, as it 
were, and are spoken of under the idea of unity." 4 The 
simple ideas thus combined " are so intimately blended 
as to have the appearance, not of a complex, but of a 
simple idea." 5 Further, " some ideas are by frequency 
and strength of association so closely combined that they 
cannot be separated. If one exists, the other exists along 
with it, in spite of whatever effort we. make to disjoin 
them." 6 For example, " it is not in our power to think 
of color without thinking of extension, or of solidity with- 
out figure." 7 Such associations he calls inseparable or 

Mill examines Hume's three laws of association con- 
tiguity in time and place, causation, and resemblance 
in the light of his own theory. Contiguity, he says, 
"must mean that of the sensations " which underlie the 
ideas; 8 contiguity in time " means the successive order," 
while contiguity in place "means the synchronous 
order." 9 But Mill has already shown that the ideas 
merely follow the order of the sensations, whether suc- 
cessive or synchronous; the law of contiguity thus reduces 
to Mill's more fundamental law of frequency. Causation 
is "the same with contiguity in time, or the order of 

1 P. gO. 2 p. gi . 3 p. g 2f 4 p. 93^ 5 p. eg. 

P. 93. 7 JMd. P. 108. * Pp 109-10. 


Resemblance is noticed by us only because 
" we are accustomed to see like things together "; 2 that 
is, we often experience at the same time a number of 
similar sensations " when we see a tree, we generally see 
more trees than one/ 3 etc. 3 and resemblance is thus re- 
duced to Mill's law of frequency. We shall notice pres- 
ently J. S. Mill's wide disagreement with his father on 
this particular point. Association by contrast, according 
to James Mill, is due either to the fact that the contrasted 
objects are both deviations from a common standard (for 
exadple, a dwarf and a giant), or to the fact that they 
are experienced in succession (pain, followed by pleas- 
urable relief from pain). 4 

Mill concludes by calling attention to the association of 
complex ideas together into a doubly -compounded/ or 
* duplex * idea. 5 These duplex ideas (decomplex ideas in 
Hartley's terminology) may be of all degrees of com- 
plexity. "My complex idea of glass and wood and 
others compose my duplex idea of a window; " several 
such duplex ideas "united together compose my idea 
of a house "; and so on, in increasing complexity, till 
at length we reach the culmination of the series in " the 
idea called Every Thing." * 

James Mill's account of the growth of mental com- 
plexity brings out a characteristic which runs through 
his whole analysis and differentiates him quite sharply 
from other associationists namely, the mechanical view 
which he takes of the associative process. The associa- 
tion theory is in the nature of things mechanistic, inas- 
much as it opposes on the one hand the casual or inde- 
terministic hypothesis of experience and on the other 
hand the hypothesis of innate ideas or forms. It con- 
ceives of mind, or experience, as a series of mental states 
united into various complexes and successions, very much 

ip. no. 3 P. in. 

4 p. 114, 5 P. 115. *PP- 


as the atoms of the physical universe are united into 
material things and produce material events. Associa- 
tionism, then, may properly be termed mechanistic, be- 
cause it employs the material pattern for the explanation 
of mental phenomena. But material events follow 
chemical principles as well as physical; and most asso- 
ciationists have applied both concepts to mental synthesis. 
James Mill, however, ignores the chemical analogy 
entirely, and practically makes the physical-mechanical 
type his sole pattern for the laws of mental coexistence 
and succession. He does, it is true, notice the seeming 
coalescence of ideas into a complex experience which is 
apparently simple. 1 And if the experience appears to be 
simple, he might consistently have affirmed, with J. S. 
Mill, that as an experience it is simple. But he does not 
admit this, and so loses the benefit of * mental chemistry/ 
In the passage just mentioned he cites, as analogous to 
the coalescence of ideas, the coalescence of sensations 
when a color wheel of several sectors with various spec- 
tral colors is rotated rapidly, giving the sensation of 
white. From the present-day standpoint the sensation 
in this case is simple. To Mill it is only apparently so. 2 

1 Ch. 3, p. 91. 

2 It is interesting ^ to note how often the expressions 'as it were/ 
* apparently/ ' seeming/ occur in this discussion. I believe James 
Mill's attitude is responsible for the widespread notion that ' pure ' 
associationism (that is, the movement up to and including him) is 
essentially physical-mechanical, a mistake which even leading his- 
torians of the English psychology have shared. In preceding 
chapters attention has been called to passages in the works of earlier 
representatives of the school which show that they take a broader 
view and recognize a fusion of experiences after the chemical 
pattern. ^ Since associationists generally, with the exception of 
James Mill and possibly Bain, hold this view, it seems proper to 
consider * mental chemistry* an integral part of the association 
doctrine. (Cf. art. 'Associationism' in Baldwin's Dictionary of 
Phil, and PsychoL, for the opposite view.) Bain studiously avoids 
the question; while he apparently agrees with James Mill, there is 
nothing in his analysis incompatible with mental chemistry. The 
term mechanistic is used above in the sense in which contemporary 
biologists apply it to denote the type of process found in both 
chemical and physical activity. 


This narrowed viewpoint manifests itself throughout 
his analysis of the higher intellectual experiences, or 
higher complexes, as he terms them, which immediately 
follows the discussion of association. 

3. J. Mill's Analysis of Cognitive Phenomena 

The phenomena of consciousness are classed by James 
Mill as sensations, simple ideas which are their copies, 
complex ideas, and trains of ideas. In all complex 
ideas symbolism, or the process of naming as Mill calls 
it, is involved. 1 Names are signs or marks attached to 
single sensations, clusters, and ideas; they are also marks 
which serve to introduce ideas or trains of ideas. 2 "The 
name rose is the mark of a sensation of color, a sensa- 
tion of shape, a sensation of touch, a sensation of smell, 
all in conjunction." 3 This is as near as James Mill comes 
to admitting an association of sensations. It is his 
equivalent for perception. He attributes this naming by 
clusters to motives of economy. 

The naming of ideas follows the naming of the sensa- 
tions of which they are copies; but there are also com- 
plex ideas " derived indeed from the senses but put to- 
gether in arbitrary combinations." 4 These arbitrary 
clusters, which he terms ' mental ' as distinguished from 
c sensible ' ideas, also receive names. Adjectives arise 
from subordinate distinctions among ideas, as for exam- 
ple when we characterize sounds as loud or low, harsh 
or sweet, etc. 5 Verbs are particular kinds of adjectives, 
characteristic of motion and action. 6 Mill analyzes in a 
similar way the minor parts of speech, and discusses 
predication, which he considers a device to mark the 
order of sensations and ideas. 7 Besides the assignment 

i Ch. 4, p. 128. a Pp. 128, 130, 134, 135- s Ch. 4, i, pp. 134-5- 
*p. 138. 5 P. 145- *P. 151. 

* P. 161. 


of names, as marks, to " clusters of ideas called objects," 
there are two other notable processes in naming: (i) 
Classification, or " generalizing those names so as to make 
them represent a class "; and (2) Abstraction, or " fram- 
ing adjectives by which minor classes are cut out of 
larger." * These two important functions Mill regards as 
by-products of the naming process. 

Conception is the process among ideas analogous to 
perception among sensations; it applies to clusters, not 
simple ideas. Thus we do not say, " I conceive red," or 
green; but we do say, "I conceive a horse," a tree, a 
ship; 2 in such cases a number of simple ideas are ' taken 
together ' (con-ceived) in one experience. 3 Conception, 
then, is not a new mental process; it merely serves to de- 
note a complex idea to which a name has been given. In 
like manner, imagination is not a distinct ' power '; it is 
merely the term applied to " the manner in which ideas 
succeed one another in a train." 4 

James Mill considers conceptions and imaginations as 
simpler types of experience than memory, which is " an 
idea and something more." 5 In this he is in agreement 
with Brown; though the general trend of his analysis 
follows Hartley's more nearly. In remembering, he says, 
" the mind runs back from the present moment to the 
moment of perception; that is to say, it runs over the 
intervening states of consciousness called up by associa- 
tion; . . . and in this case we associate them so rapidly 
and closely that they run, as it were, into a single point of 
consciousness, to which the name memory is assigned." 6 
This is true whether the starting-point be a sensation, 
which we remember to have experienced before, or an 
idea which is remembered as a former sensation or idea. 7 

This explanation of memory illustrates again the un- 

1 Ch- 9, pp. 295, 294. 2 Ch. 6, p. 233. s P. 234. 

4 Ch. 7, p. 238. 5 Ch. 10, p. 321. P. 3-31. 

7 Pp- 329-35- Compare Aristotle in the passage quoted in Chap- 


wieldiness of Mill's mechanical view of association. It 
is patent that we do not in the majority of cases actually 
c run over ' the intervening experiences as the younger 
Mill takes pains to point out in a note on this passage. 
James Mill of course regards the process as syncopated 
to the utmost; but even so his description appears 
strained to his most sympathetic disciples; his difficulties 
are due (from the associationist's standpoint) to his un- 
willingness to admit the presence of transforming syn- 
thetic factors in the associative process. 

As already noted, James Mill considers predication a 
mere variety of the naming process. Passing to the 
allied notion of belief, he subjects it to a minute analysis. 
The reason for this disproportionately close examination 
seems to have been the earnest controversy which had 
been going on since Hume's time regarding belief in 
causality and belief in the external world, especially by 
Thomas Reid, 1 Dugald Stewart, 2 and Thomas Brown. 2 
Mill saw that belief is a crux for the association doctrine. 
Hume and Brown had treated its psychological aspect 
very cursorily, and Hartley's discussion of assent (his 
equivalent for belief) was by no means thorough. Mill 
divides belief into three prime sorts: (i) Belief in events 
or real existences; (2) Belief in testimony; and (3) 
Belief in the truth of propositions. 4 The first case, which 
he holds to be the most important of all, comprises (a) 
belief in present events (including i, existences present 
to the senses, and ii, those not present to the senses), 
(b) belief in past events, and (c) belief in future events. 

Belief in existences present to the senses (perception) 
includes something more than mere belief in present sen- 
sations which is another name for having (or experienc- 

11 Enquiry into the Human Mind,* 1764 ch. 2, and 'Essays on 
the Intellectual Powers of Man,' 1785, II, ch. 20. 
2 * Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind/ 1792, 1, ch. 3. 
s ' On the Relation of Cause and Effect/ 1818, pass. 
* Ch. n, p. 344- 


ing) the sensations. It involves, besides the present sen- 
sations, associated memories of tactile and muscular sen- 
sations, giving ideas of extension, distance, and resistance, 
and other sense memories " inseparably united one with 
another, and inseparably united with the idea of ourselves 
as having them." 1 Our belief in the physical objects 
causing the sensations is a belief in causation. Mill re- 
solves causation into an invariable connection of ante- 
cedent and consequent, and he resolves belief in causation 
into an inseparability which leads us to regard the com- 
plex experience as a unit. 2 Belief in the existence of 
objects not present to the senses reduces to a case of 
testimony if we have never perceived these objects; if 
we have experienced them in the past and believe in their 
present existence, something more than memory is in- 
volved, namely, the belief that we shall experience them 
again if we are " in the same situation " 3 which reduces 
to belief in the future. 

Belief in past existences Mill resolves into memory or 
belief in testimony, as the case may be. Belief in the 
future, he finds, is due to indissoluble associations among 
our past experiences, which mark off the constant from 
the casual sequences, 4 and which we term "the uni- 
formity of the laws of nature." 5 

Belief in testimony means belief in events as a result 
of testimony from others instead of our own experience; 
but the testimony itself is a present (or past) event, and 
belief in this has already been resolved into indissoluble 
association. 6 

Belief in the truth of general propositions involves 
predication, or judgment, and this is shown to be merely 
an indissoluble association of names or marks belonging 
to two clusters of ideas. 7 " To have two ideas, one a part 

1 P- 349. 2 P. 352. 3 P. 355. 

* Pp. 363-8- *P. 384. 'Pp. 38l, 385. 

7 Pp. 388-90. 


of another, and know that one is part of another, is not 
two things, but one and the same thing." 1 

Belief, then, in any of its aspects, is a mere case of 
indissoluble association. 2 Mill criticizes Locke's distinc- 
tion between right and wrong belief: "Wrong belief is 
belief no less than right belief." Both proceed from 
association. The most we can say is that " when ideas 
are connected not in conformity with the connection of 
things, the belief is wrong belief." Custom, however, 
unites ideas more often in conformity with the connec- 
tions among things than otherwise. 3 

4. J. Mill: Motor and Affective Phenomena 

The remainder of the * Analysis J may be summed up 
briefly. Ratiocination is association of the terms of 
propositions into a train.* Reflection on any specific idea 
is merely " the having an idea, and knowing it," which 
are " one and the same thing." 5 The " idea of reflection 
is simply the generalization of particular " experiences. 6 

James Mill attributes the distinction between intel- 
lectual and active powers of the mind to the fact that 
while some " sensations and ideas are considered merely 
as existing," others are " considered as not merely exist- 
ing, but also as exciting to action." 7 The will he regards 
as " that peculiar state of mind or consciousness ... by 
which action is preceded." 8 It consists in " an idea of 
the thing willed," 9 that is, of the action, associated with 
desire; and " the idea of the outward appearance of the 
action, . . . excited by association, excites in the same 
way the idea of the internal feelings which are the im- 
mediate antecedent of the action, and then the action 
takes place." 10 " Whatever power we may possess over 

i lv392- 2 PP- 369-77. 3 PP- 380-1. 

* Ch. 12. s Ch. 15, Vol. II, p. 178- 6 H>id. f p. 179. 

* Ch. 16, II, p. 181. 8 Ch. 24, II, p. 3^8. P. 
10 Pp. 378-9, 


the actions of our muscles, must be derived from our 
power over our associations/' and this power "means 
nothing more than the power of certain interesting ideas, 
originating in interesting sensations, and formed into 
strength by association." * 

The affective consciousness Mill regards as -a character 
of sensation. Sensations are indifferent, painful, or pleas- 
urable; and this distinction runs through all the senses; 
the pleasures and pains of the "internal parts of the 
body/' though they have no special names, " hold a great 
share in composing the springs of human action." 2 
When anticipated as future, they become in certain cases 
motives. 3 " The idea of a pain or pleasure is not a pain 
or pleasure; " but this merely means "that the idea of 
a pleasurable or painful sensation is not a sensation." 4 

Thus James Mill succeeds in ridding his psychology of 
any distinct * affective' element, as he has rid it of a 
distinct * active ' element. Every experience is resolved 
into sensations and ideas, combined into groups, or follow- 
ing in trains, by the single process of association; and the 
principle of association itself is reduced to its simplest 
terms the tendency of ideas to group themselves or suc- 
ceed one another after the manner of their originals. His 
analysis is the most thorough of any up to his time, and 
the most systematic in its passage from point to point. 
It is also the most rigidly associational and, as has been 
indicated, it holds to a very narrow type of association- 
ism. Unsatisfactory in many points even to those pre- 
disposed in favor of the theory, it nevertheless furnished 
them with a complete survey of the field; and thus it 
naturally became the starting-point for later work. The 
writers who followed Mill adopted much of his analysis, 
and that which appeared faulty or strained served only 
to stimulate more careful examination. 

. " 2 Ch. 17, II, p. iBs. 

32, Ch. 19, II, p. 190. 


5. John Stuart Mill's Law of Association 

JOHN STUART MILL (1806-1873), the son of James 
Mill, was connected with the East India Company till the 
age of fifty; he was at the same time engaged in edi- 
torial work and other writing, and in the later' years of 
his life devoted himself chiefly to study and literature. 
His psychology is closely linked to that of his father, his 
own original work being chiefly in the field of logic. He 
was a more critical thinker than the elder Mill, and saw 
difficulties where the latter was content with a plausible 

J. S. Mill was impressed with the force of some of the 
objections to associationism raised by William Hamil- 
ton 1 and others, and realized the weakness of certain 
parts of the c Analysis *; he accordingly amended the 
theory in several respects. We are fortunate in having 
his views presented in critical annotations to James Mill's 
masterpiece, which he edited in connection with Alex- 
ander Bain (1869). The reasons for his emendations are 
thus made clear. He does not hesitate to bring out 
incisively the points in which he differs with his father. 
The chief of these, already alluded to, is his broader 
conception of the associative process, which he pictures 
as a * chemical ' union instead of a merely i physical * 
conjunction; there are also many points of difference in 
the analysis itself, especially in connection with the intel- 
lectual processes. Besides the notes to his edition of the 
6 Analysis/ his . psychological views are found in his 
* Logic ' (1843), an d fr kk ' Examination of Sir William 
Hamilton's Philosophy* (1865). 

A chapter in the * Logic/ on the Laws of Mind, 2 

1 The historical note on Association and the discussion of its 
principles by Hamilton have been referred to in Chapter I. Though 
himself a follower of the Scottish school, Hamilton's work 'was of 
great value to the later associatipnists and stimulated them to review 
the underlying principles of their doctrine, 

2 Bk. VI, ch. 4. 


presents his conception of association very clearly, though 
his views were modified somewhat in later years. 1 The 
subject-matter of psychology, he declares in this chapter, 
is the determination of the laws according to which one 
mental state succeeds another. 2 Two of the most general 
laws are as follows: (i) "Whenever any state of con- 
sciousness has once been excited in us, no matter by what 
cause, an inferior degree of the same state of conscious- 
ness, a state of consciousness resembling the former but 
inferior in intensity, is capable of being reproduced in us 
without the presence of any such cause as excited it at 
first." 3 This defines the nature of ideas in relation to 
sensations. (2) "These ideas, or secondary mental 
states, are excited by our impressions or by other ideas 
according to certain laws which are called Laws of As- 
sociation." 4 

There are three such laws: " The first is that similar 
ideas tend to excite one another. The second is that 
when two impressions have been frequently experienced 
(or even thought of) either simultaneously or in im- 
mediate succession, then whenever one of these impres- 
sions or the idea of it recurs, it tends to excite the idea 
of the other. The third law is that greater intensity in 
either or both of the impressions is equivalent, in ren- 
dering them excitable by one another, to a greater fre- 
quency of conjunction." 5 

It will be noticed that the first is the familiar law of 
Similarity; the second is Contiguity, which Mill combines 
with Frequency or Habit; the third is the law of Inten- 
sity. Mill rejects the law of Contrast absolutely^ in a 
note to the c Analysis ' he declares that " black does not 
remind us of white more than of red or green; if light 

1 Quotations are from the 8th edition the last revised by the 

ft, 3. 


reminds us of darkness, it is because darkness is the 
mere negation, or absence, of light." * 

In a later work J. S. Mill postulates four laws instead 
of three: (i) Similarity and (2) Contiguity, stated prac- 
tically as before, but without the reference to Frequency. 
(3) The law of Frequency, stated in a somewhat modified 
form: " Associations produced by contiguity become more 
certain and rapid by repetition. When two phenomena 
have been very often experienced in conjunction, and 
have not in any single instance occurred separately either 
in experience or in thought, there is produced between 
them what has been called Inseparable, or less correctly 
Indissoluble Association." 2 (4) When an association has 
acquired this character of inseparability ... not only 
does the idea called up by association become in our con- 
sciousness inseparable from the idea which suggested it, 
but the facts or phenomena answering to these ideas come 
at last to seem inseparable in existence." 3 

Mill differs with his father on the question of Simi- 
larity, making it the first principle of association. 
Similarity is not reducible to mere frequency of experi- 
ence, for we experience unlike things together more fre- 
quently than many like things, yet they do not suggest 
one another in the same degree as do like things. 4 He 
goes rather to the other extreme, assigning frequency a 
role in connection with contiguity but not with similarity. 
It is interesting here to note Mill's use of one of his 
canons of induction to account for inseparability of asso- 
ciation. In the c Examination ' he omits the law of in- 
tensity, which he seems to think deducible from frequency 
under the law of Inseparable Association. Special em- 
phasis is laid on this notion of inseparable association, 
to which he attaches an important epistemological role 

i Vol. I, p. 126. 

2 'Exam./ ch. n, Vol. I, p. 235; cf. ch. 6, p. 83, ed. of 1865, 

^Anal/I, p. inff. 


in the fourth law. In criticism of the term indissoluble 
he urges that associations which have become for the 
present inseparable may nevertheless be dissolved in 
time. 1 

Mill holds that the laws of association are supplemented 
by certain laws of oblivescence, the principal one of 
which he states as follows: "When a number of ideas 
suggest one another by association with such certainty 
and rapidity as to coalesce together in a group, all those 
members of the group which remain long without being 
especially attended to, have a tendency to drop out of 
consciousness." 2 They may even " disappear from con- 
sciousness as completely as if they had never formed part 
of the series." 3 By this law of lapsed links, taken per- 
haps from Tucker, he is able to account for the limita- 
tions of memory without resorting to the elder Mill's 
questionable hypothesis that all intervening states actually 
pass rapidly through consciousness each time we have a 

J. S. Mill's view of the compounding of experiences is 
most clearly stated in his ' Logic.' Certain of our com- 
plex ideas, he says, are generated from simple ones; they 
do not consist of them. For, " the effect of concurring 
causes is not always precisely the sum of the effects of 
those causes when separate, nor even always an effect of 
the same kind." 4 In psychology, as in the physical 
sciences, there are two distinct types: " The laws of the 
phenomena of mind are sometimes analogous to me- 
chanical, but sometimes also to chemical laws. When 
many impressions or ideas are operating in the mind to- 
gether, there sometimes takes place a process of a similar 
kind to chemical combination. When impressions have 
been so often experienced in conjunction that each of 

* This qualification meets the objection which might otherwise be 
raised to the term inseparable. 
2 * Exam./ I t 317. 3 * Anal./ I, 106. * Loc. cit., 3. 


them calls up readily and instantaneously the ideas of the 
whole group, those ideas sometimes melt and coalesce into 
one another, and appear not several ideas but one." l Our 
idea of an orange really consists of certain ideas of color, 
form, taste, smell, etc., because by examination we can 
perceive all these elements in the idea. But we do not 
perceive, in the visual perception of the shape of an 
object, " that multitude of ideas derived from other senses, 
without which ... no such visual perception would 
ever have had existence; nor in our idea of Extension 
can we discover those elementary ideas of resistance 
derived from our muscular frame, in which ... the 
idea originates. These, therefore, are cases of mental 
chemistry, in which it is proper to say that the simple 
ideas generate, rather than that they compose the com- 
plex ones' 2 just as when the spectral colors follow one 
another rapidly it is proper to say that they generate 
white, not that they are white, 

J. S. Mill files two caveats in connection with the ap- 
plication of the notion of mental chemistry. First, when 
we see that some complex idea may have been generated 
in this wise from simpler elements, we should not assume 
at once that it actually has been that the complex 
phenomenon has been satisfactorily explained: we must 
employ the canon of Difference as well as the canon of 
Agreement, and show that it could not have been brought 
about otherwise. Second, even if the association theory 
be proved, " we should not be the more enabled to resolve 
the laws of the more complex feelings into those of the 
simpler ones." 3 The generation of one class of mental 
phenomena from another does not supersede the necessity 
of an experimental study of the generated phenomena and 
their laws. 4 

i Ibid. 2 Ibid. s ' Logic/ loc. cit. * Ibid. 


6. /. S. Mill's Analysis of Belief 

J. S. Mill is concerned with association as a logician 
rather than as a psychologist, and he does not attempt to 
apply it systematically to the higher complexes as his 
father did. We need not stop to examine the minor 
emendations which are suggested in his notes on the 
* Analysis/ since he is in general agreement with Bain's 
view, which will be discussed presently. But it is of 
interest to follow his analysis of Belief, which on account 
of its relation to judgment attracts his special attention 
in the * Logic ' and elsewhere. 

Predication is not a mere case of naming, as the elder 
Mill declared; it is something more than the mere asso- 
ciation of predicate with subject. Predication " expresses 
a belief that a certain coexistence or sequence of sensa- 
tions or ideas did, does, or under certain circumstances 
would take place; and the reverse of this when the predi- 
cation is negative." 1 Belief itself "is always a case 
either of memory or expectation." 2 It is the element 
which distinguishes memory from imagination, and expec- 
tation from mere conception. 3 Belief " is more than an 
inseparable association; for inseparable associations do 
not always generate belief, nor does belief always require 
as one of its conditions inseparable association " 4 it 
certainly is not an indissoluble association, for then " an 
opinion once formed could never afterwards be destroyed 
or changed." 5 

There seems to be, then, some distinctive element in 
belief. Mill agrees with Bain that "what constitutes 
belief is the power which an idea has obtained over the 
will " by association. 6 " We believe a thing when we are 
ready to act on the faith of it to face the practical con- 

11 Anal./ I, p. 164. a/Wd.,p.4i8. 

*Ibid.; cf. 'Exam./ ch. 18, II, p. 97. *Ibid. 

5 P- 404. 'Anal./I, pp. 402-3. 


sequences of taking it for' granted; and therein lies the 
distinction between believing two facts to be conjoined, 
and merely thinking of them together." x " But when 
there is a difference in the effects there must be a dif- 
ference in the cause: the association which leads to action 
must be, in some respect or other, different from that 
which stops at thought." 2 

It is at this point that J. S. Mill differs with Bain, and 
questions the sufficiency of the associational analysis of 
belief: " I can perceive no escape," he says, " from the 
opinion that the distinction [between our representation 
of an imaginary thing and our belief in the reality of a 
represented thing] is ultimate and primordial. There is 
no more difficulty in holding it to be so than in holding 
the difference between a sensation and an idea to be 
primordial. It seems almost another aspect of the same 
difference." 3 And in his * Logic/ also, he questions 
whether mental chemistry is adequate to explain the gen- 
eration of belief. 4 

Mill's theory of belief plays an important role, as might 
be expected, in his epistemology. In two chapters of the 
' Examination ' he discusses at considerable length the 
psychological basis of our belief in the external world and 
mind. The external world reduces, psychologically, to 
a " permanent possibility of sensation." 5 My own mind 
reduces to " the permanent possibility of feeling," includ- 
ing internal feelings, thoughts, emotions, etc., as well as 
the sensations of my outward senses "; 6 it is a conse- 
quence of memory. 7 
, Belief in the future enters as an important element into 

1 P. 403. 

2 P. 404. Compare the pragmatic doctrine of today. 

3 Pp. 412-3. An explanation of the relation between sensation 
and idea rests, as Hartley pointed out, on physiological grounds. 
It is difficult to see how physiological data can serve to explain the 
sui generis character of belief. 

*Pt. VI, ch. 4, 3. 6< Exam.,' ch. u, esp. p. 243. 

6 Ch. 12, pp. 253-4. T ' Anal./ I, p. 229. 


our idea of causation. Mill defines a cause as an uncon- 
ditional as well as invariable antecedent; it is not merely 
one that always has been followed by a given consequent, 
but one which we believe always will be so followed. 1 
But our idea of cause includes another element, still more 
important than expectation namely, the idea of effort. 
This latter datum is "derived from the action of our 
muscles," which always " has to contend against resist- 
ance, either that of an outward object, or the mere fric- 
tion and weight of the moving organ; every voluntary 
motion is consequently attended by the muscular sensa- 
tion of resistance, and, if sufficiently prolonged, by the 
additional muscular sensation of fatigue." 2 By constant 
association this experience is generalized, so that savages 
and children conceive inanimate causes as overcoming re- 
sistance, and this becomes their notion of power. While 
"we outgrow that belief," still our mind "interposes 
between the antecedent and the consequent an abstract 
entity to express what is supposed common to the ani- 
mate and the inanimate agency," and " this purely sub- 
jective notion ... is power." 3 

Mill assigns an important role to attention in connec- 
tion with voluntary activity. Attention, produced by 
highly pleasurable or painful experiences, tends to prolong 
the experience so characterized, to strengthen it, and to 
render it more distinct. 4 When such an idea is associated 
with a muscular act, this intensification " has a specific 
tendency to excite the act when the idea is that of a 
pleasure, but when it is the idea of a pain has a specific 
tendency to prevent that act." 5 The power of the atten- 
tion over the will, then, is not arbitrary, but an instance 
of the laws of association. This application of attention 
to the problem of volition, which Mill does not fully work 
out, is an important contribution to the theory of the 

1 ' Logic/ Bk III, ch. 5, 6. 2 ' Exam.,' ch. 16, II, p. 47. 

3 Pp. 47-8. * * Anal./ II, 372. s p. 38a 


will from the associational standpoint, since it brings 
association to bear on conative phenomena in a new way, 
supplementing Hartley's general analysis. 

Mill bases logic on the data of psychology, but declares 
that " logic is not the theory of thought as thought, but 
only as valid thought." x The so-called laws of thought 
(identity, contradiction, and excluded middle), which de- 
termine its validity, may or may not be "an original 
part of our mental constitution." Whether they "are 
laws of our thoughts by the native structure of the mind, 
or merely because we perceive them to be universally 
true of observed phenomena," he says, " I will not posi- 
tively decide; but they are laws of our thoughts now, and 
invincibly so." 2 

The distinguishing features of J. S. Mill's work are 

(1) his emphatic reinstatement of mental chemistry as an 
operation attending certain associations, especially fusion; 

(2) his thorough analysis of belief, and his assertion that 
it contains an original element, not to be identified with 
sensation or idea, nor attributable to association; (3) his 
logical insight into many difficulties and shortcomings of 
the earlier associational analysis, his fair and incisive 
criticisms of these, and his many hints at more con- 
sistent solutions. 

It is to be regretted that his psychological analysis is 
so detached and incomplete; but this disadvantage is 
scarcely felt if we take his system in connection with 
that of his father, amending the latter in accordance with 
his suggestions. Furthermore, we have a thorough 
analysis of consciousness by -his contemporary and co- 
worker Bain, whose point of view coincided in the main 
with John Stuart Mill's. 

1 ' Exam./ ch. 20, II, p. 145. 

'Exam*' ch. 21, II, p. 180; cf, * Logic/ Bk. II, ch. 7, 5. 


7. Alexander Bain's Conception of Association 

ALEXANDER BAIN (1818-1903) for many years held 
the chair in logic at tie University of Aberdeen, but is 
better known for his contributions to psychology. His 
book on logic is overshadowed by J. S. Mill's great classic, 
just as the latter's fragmentary psychology is dominated 
by Bain's exhaustive two-volume treatise. Bain's chief 
book on psychology appeared as two separate works, the 
first entitled 'The Senses and the Intellect' (1855), the 
second, ' The Emotions and the Will ' (1859) ; they were 
twice revised by the author (3d ed. 1875). These two 
works, really one, embody Bain's conception of mind in 
a full and thorough analysis whose chief instrument is 
the associative principle. Some additional points and 
many side-lights are found in his notes to J. S. Mill's 
edition of James Mill's ' Analysis' (1869), and in his 
' Mind and Body > (1866), his < Mental Science ' (1868), 
which is mainly an abridgment of his two first works, 
and his ' Logic' (1870). These later works and the re- 
vised editions of his earlier volumes show the influence 
of Herbert Spencer's evolution philosophy and Charles 
Darwin's theory of biological evolution in several re- 
spects; but Bain's psychology is essentially pre-evolu- 
tionary. His best piece of analysis is his treatment of 
the intellectual processes in terms of association, in his 
first volume. 

Bain distinguishes at the outset between three sorts of 
mental phenomena: (i) feeling, including "pleasures and 
pains, emotion, passion, affection, sentiment "; (2) " voli- 
tion, or the will, embracing the whole of our activity as 
directed by our feelings; " and (3) "thought, intellect, 
or cognition." 1 Intellect "includes such functions as 
memory, reason, judgment, and imagination." 2 It im- 
plies three facts: (i) "Discrimination, or sense of dif- 

1 * S. and I.,' 3d ed., Intr., ch. I, 2. 2 Ibid., 3. 


ference, shown by our being conscious of one sensation 
as more intense than another/ 3 etc.; (2) " Similarity, or 
sense of agreement; " (3) " Retentiveness, commonly 
understood by the familiar names memory and recollec- 
tion; this power is essential to the operation of the two 
former." 1 

Discrimination involves an important mental principle 
the Law of Relativity: " As change of impression is an 
indispensable condition of our being conscious, or of being 
mentally alive to feeling and thought, every mental expe- 
rience is necessarily two-fold. We can neither feel nor 
know heat, except in the transition from cold. In every 
feeling there are two contrasting states; in every act of 
knowledge two things are known together." 2 In his first 
edition Bain combines the first two factors together as 
"sense of agreement or of difference," and limits this 
phenomenon to intellect. The extension of discrimination 
to feeling and consciousness in all its forms, under the 
law of relativity, is an effect of Spencer's influence. It 
does not fit especially well into Bain's treatment of the 
laws of association, as L. Ferri points out. 3 

The third power, retentiveness, has two aspects: "the 
persistence or continuance of mental impressions after the 
withdrawal of the external agent," and " the power of re- 
covering, or reviving, under the form of ideas, past or 
extinct sensations and feeling of all kinds, without the 
originals, and by mental agencies alone." 4 It is a strik- 
ing feature of Bain's psychology that he dispenses with 
any treatment of memory as such; the nervous function 
of renewal is discussed briefly in one place, 5 the revival 
of sensations is alluded, to under several senses, and^the 
subjective phenomena of memory are treated mainly 


2 ' S. and I.,' 6 ; cf. ' Logic,' Intr., 3- 
8 ' Psychol. de 1'assoc.,' p. 138. 
* ' S. and L,' Bk. II, prelim. 
5 ' S. and I,/ Intr., ch. 2, 25. 


under the associative principle of contiguity. 1 The other 
"intellectual functions" of imagination, judgment, and 
reason are similarly subsumed as forms of association. 

In his first edition Bain considers association as simply 
the revival or reappearance of past states of mind by 
mere mental operations. 2 The process " is subject to fixed 
laws . . . termed Laws of Mental Association, Sugges- 
tion,- or Reproduction," which are " four in number, two 
being simple and fundamental, and two complex." 3 He 
names these principles Contiguity, Similarity, Compound 
Association, and Constructive Imagination. 

In his third edition he links the law of contiguity with 
retentiveness, and the law of similarity with sense of 
agreement. The third law, which he terms Complicated 
Reproduction as well as Compound Association, and 
which seems to be derivative, he links with sense of dif- 
ference or discrimination. Bain suggests no special basis 
for the fourth process, which involves " the applications 
of the intellectual forces to form new constructions, the 
Creative or Inventive faculty of the mind "; he is not 
disposed to treat it as a separate law. 4 This difference 
of treatment is a result of his attempt to incorporate the 
Spencerian principle of relativity into his analysis. Fol- 
lowing the same plan, in the third edition he elevates 
discrimination to an important position at the outset and 
relegates it later on to a subordinate place under the law 
of contrast. This uneven treatment shows that his at- 
tempt is only partially successful that he has not recon- 
structed his analysis thoroughly to accord with the new 
view, as should have been done in the interests of con- 
sistency. The four laws given-air -the first-edition rep- 
resent Bain's own standpoint. 

(i) The Law of Contiguity, which is " the law of asso- 
ciation proper, of adhesion, mental adhesiveness, or 

* Bk. II, ch. I. 2 * S. and L/ Bk. II, prelim., 6. 

4 ' S. and I.,' 3d ed., Bk II, prelim. 


acquisition/' is stated as follows: "Actions, sensations, 
and states of feeling, occurring together or in close suc- 
cession, tend to grow together, or cohere, in such a way 
that, when any one of them is afterwards presented to 
the mind, the others are apt to be brought up in idea*' 7 * 
This law applies first of all to groups of muscular move- 
ments, and to the feelings which we have of such move- 
ments. It is the basis of our coordination of movements, 
and of our idea of a movement when the latter does not 
actually take place, a type of intellect or thought which 
appears at an early stage. In like manner sensations 
arising from the same sense group themselves into objects 
of sense, and give rise by association to ideas, though 
this usually occurs in the higher senses only. A later 
form is the grouping of sensations from different senses 
and of sensations with movements, which gives rise to 
perception and ideas of objects of perception. These 
1 object-experiences/ again, may be associated with emo- 
tions (sublimity, etc.) or with movements (volition). 
The law of repetition, according to which the strength 
of an association is increased by its frequent renewal, is 
implied in the law of contiguity. 2 

Bain believes that most cases of association are suc- 
cessive all, in fact, " except complex and coinciding mus- 
cular movements, and the concurrence of sensations 
through different senses at the same moment." 3 " The 
features of a landscape can be conceived only by suc- 
cessive movements of the mind, as it can be seen only by 
successive movements of the eye." 4 In this way he sets 
aside in large measure the problem of simultaneous asso- 
ciation and the question of fusion. 

(2) Bain's other fundamental principle is the Law of 
Similarity or Agreement: "Present actions, sensations, 
thoughts, or emotions tend to revive their like among 

* ' S. and I./ ist ed., Bk. II, ch. i, i. 2 Ibid., I. 

* Ibid., 58 ; cf. * M. S.,' 1 12. * Ibid. 


previous impressions." * Under the first law " the new 
action or the new image was supposed precisely identical 
with the old, and went simply to reinstate and to deepen 
an impression already made"; the second law applies 
to cases " where the identity is only partial." 2 In the 
first case the reinstatement is sure, here it is doubtful, 
and the problem is what degree of similarity will produce 
association. When two experiences are alike in one re- 
spect and dissimilar in many, it is possible to detect the 
similarity in some cases and not in others. Faintness and 
diversity are impediments to the revival, 8 and familiarity 
a help, 4 under this law. The rational processes of ab- 
straction, induction, deduction, and analogy are instances 
of association by similarity. 5 

(3) Bain's third principle is the Law of Compound 
Association; " Past actions, sensations, thoughts, or emo- 
tions are recalled more easily when associated, either 
through contiguity or similarity, with more than one pres- 
ent object or impression." 6 This is not a new principle; 
the reinstatement according to the two fundamental laws 
merely becomes " more easy and certain " where " several 
threads, or a plurality of links or bonds of connection 
concur in reviving" one and the same previous mental 
state. 7 "Associations that are individually too weak to 
operate the revival of a past idea, may succeed by acting 
together." 8 

Bain's exposition of this principle is scarcely satisfac- 
tory; his instances are for the most part complexities 
which have been already associated, rather than separate 
experiences or the association is traced to frequency 
rather than concurrence. He does show, however, that 
trains of thought are directed into one rather than the 
other of two conflicting lines by the relative number of 

2, i. a/Wtf.,a. s 4. 


;)&, ;wt ch. 3 , 


the favorable elements in the present experience as well 
as their strength. 1 

In his first edition Bain reduces Aristotle's law of 
Contrast or Contrariety to a combination of contiguity 
and similarity, together with an element of emotion which 
serves to impress the contrast upon us. Black and white, 
for example, are both colors, or modes of light; having 
become coupled in popular language, they tend to sug- 
gest one another by contiguity; while in many instances 
of contrast one quality is painful and suggests the other 
as a relief from this. 2 In the revised edition he makes 
contrast " the reproductive phase of the first law of mind 
relativity or Discrimination," 3 while admitting that 
contrast may also arise in many cases in the ways just 

(4) The fourth principle, Constructive Imagination,,is 
stated as follows: "By means of association the mind 
has the power to form new combinations or aggregates, 
different from any that have been presented to it in the 
course of experience." 4 This operation is variously 
known as Imagination, Creation, Constructiveness, and 
Origination or Invention; it is the process whereby we 
put together new forms of mental imagery. Bain affirms 
that " the intellectual forces operating in these creations 
are no other than the associating forces already dis- 
cussed; the new combinations grow out of elements al- 
ready possessed by the mind, and brought forward 
according to the laws above laid down. 5 

8. Bain's Derivation of Mental Phenomena 

Bain reduces all the intellectual processes to instances 
of one or other of these laws or forms of association. In 

i 14. 2 Ibid., 18. 

*' S. and L,' 3d ed., ibid.; cf. 'Mental Sci.,' Bk. II, ch, 3, 10. 
* * S, and I/ 3d ed., Bk. II, ch. 4. i. 5 Ibid, 


general, perception and memory result from the principle 
of Contiguity, generalization and all forms of reasoning 
result from tie principle of Similarity or Agreement ;- 
complex experiences of objects are consolidated and 
habitual trains of thought are formed in accordance with 
the principle of Compound Association; while imagina- 
tion and invention result from the principle of Construc- 
tive Association* "The principal distinction between 
memory and imagination lies in the setting of the re- 
spective ideas: ideas of memory have a place in the con- 
tinuous chain of our remembered life; ideas of imagina- 
tion correspond to nothing in that chain or rather, they 
are consciously combined from different ideas of memory 
taken out of their memory-setting and aggregated under a 
special motive." 1 

Knowledge is identical with affirmation and belief. Its 
essential elements are, (i) in the case of a single thing 
known, "we must be conscious of it as differing from 
some things and as agreeing with others"; (2) in the 
case of affirmations, at least two things are noticed, and 
" the couple must be farther viewed as coming under a 
third property," such as coexistence, succession, etc.; 
(3) "into these affirmations there must enter the active 
state or disposition termed belief, or disbelief." 2 

Belief is essentially a part of the active side of mind. 
"Preparedness to act upon what we affirm is ... 
the sole, the genuine, the unmistakable criterion of be- 
lief." 3 In its primitive form it is primitive credulity and 
spontaneous activity the impulse to accept experience 
without question and to act upon it; but even early in 
experience there appear contradictions, which produce 
depressing emotional effects. Owing to these contradic- 
tions, belief in its developed form implies " as a necessary 
element some cognizance of the order ot nature." * In a 

1 ' Em. and Will/ 3d ed., ch. on Belief, 29. 

2 Ibid., ch. Consc,, 26. Ch. Belief, 2. * 3. 


word, belief proper is "innate credulity tempered by 
checks." * Our beliefs are strong in proportion ( i ') as 
" we work as strongly for the means as we do for the 
end" (motor test), and (2) as we are elated "by at- 
taining the means to a given end," or depressed " by a 
prognostic of calamity " emotional test.- 

Contrary to J. S. Mill, Bain finds no new and un- 
analyzable element in belief; he is able to reduce it to a 
case of association. His position is virtually in agreement 
with that of the elder Mill, except that he makes non- 
contradiction the test of belief: we assume that the 
uncontradicted is true not merely that which has been 
incessantly repeated. 3 

Bain's analysis of the distinction between subject and 
object, between the internal and external worlds of ex- 
perience, forms an interesting contrast with J. S. Mill's. 
He finds that these two sides are separated in experience 
by three independent criteria: (i) Objects are character- 
ized by " movement ... as contrasted with passive 
sensation " which characterizes the subject. (2) " Defi- 
nite feelings connected with definite movements " charac- 
terize the object, in contrast with " feelings independent 
of our movements (subject)." (3) " Experience common 
to all (object), as against experience special to each 
(subject).* The fundamental experience connected 
with movement of objects, in the first criterion, is " that 
peculiar sensibility that we term the feeling of resist- 
ance," which he attributes to the muscle sense. The 
second criterion forms the demarcation between sensation 
and idea. The third he regards as " one of the handiest 
tests to distinguish reality from illusion." 5 

We noticed that Bain places the active side of mind 
ahead of the intellectual in his opening analysis. This 
order has peculiar significance in his system. Perhaps 

., ch. Consc,, 2& *Ibid. 


the most important feature in his treatment of the ele- 
mentary facts of psychology is the prominence he accords 
to motor phenomena, starting with the notion of con- 
tractility and sensibility, and examining all forms of spon- 
taneous and instinctive activity in connection with the 
feelings that accompany them. His theory of volition 
hinges on this relation. 

The primitive fact of mind on its motor side is the 
original tendency of the organism to spontaneous move- 
ments. 1 For the passage from spontaneous to voluntary 
activity, it is necessary (i) that certain movements, or 
groups of movements, be capable of isolation from all 
others; and (2) that there be some special excitement, 
especially by what may be termed mental stimulants or 
ideas. 2 The link between feeling and action in primitive 
life is the law of self -conservation: pleasurable stimuli 
tend to incite greater activity, while painful stimuli tend 
to check activity. 8 

The special stimulus to voluntary activity is directive, 
and consists in an ideal " purpose or aim." 4 Ideas come 
under voluntary control by the hindering effect on move- 
ments of certain thoughts and the furthering effect of 
others. 5 The sense of voluntary power arises in the con- 
sciousness of effort, which is the consciousness of expen- 
diture of energy in the struggle against obstacles; its 
growth is due to exercise and fatigue: the repetition of 
chance conjunctions of movements with ideas which are 
favorable to the coordinated activity generates an associa- 
tion (law of contiguity), while irrelevant accompanying 
movements only hinder the consolidation till by chance 
they are omitted and the obstacle to complete coordina- 
tion is overcome. 6 Ideas so joined with coordinated ac- 
tivity are known as motives or ends. 

1 ' Em. and W.,' Bk II, ch. i, prelim. 2 3 * 

8 ' S. and I./ Bk I, ch. 4, 26. 4 ' Em. and W.,' Bk II, ch. i, 6. 


Motives admit of a variety of classifications, the most 
fundamental division being into ideas concerned with the 
promotion of pleasure and those concerned with the ward- 
ing off of pain. 1 Conflicts in motives arise from the joint 
presence of two or more motives that tend toward dif- 
ferent lines of activity; deliberation is the check or pause 
during this conflict, and resolution marks its termination. 2 
The moral instincts are habits of control which arise ac- 
cording to the laws of association, aided by social educa- 
tion; 3 the notions of duty and conscience depend at first 
on punishment and the fear of punishment, which are 
later superseded by a subjective control the former 
stage is the slave conscience, the latter the citizen con- 
science. 4 

Bain regards volition as a mental phenomenon, but not 
as a fact of consciousness. The elements in conscious- 
ness corresponding to volition are either intellectual or 
emotional; deliberation, desire, and belief, as facts of 
experience, are ideas. 5 

Emotions, according to Bain, are complex manifesta- 
tions of feeling. The direct external stimulus, which is 
the prominent physical element in sensation, is lacking in 
emotion, and in its place we find the " outward manifesta- 
tions or diffused wave of effects." 6 This tendency of the 
aroused currents to diffuse themselves is a characteristic 
of all feeling, but in the case of emotion it is more ex- 
tended and definite than in the simpler pleasure or pain 
reactions. 7 Associations founded on feeling are the 
slowest to form and require most repetition; 8 on the other 
hand the complex feelings or emotions aroused by asso- 
ciation attain a greater intensity or volume and subside 
more gradually than ideational associations. 9 Bain 
analyzes the emotions as developments of primitive pleas- 

iCh. 5. 2 Ch. 7. 3 Ch.g. 

* Ch, 10. 5 ' Em. and W./ ch. Consc., 6 note. 

' Em. and W.,' Bk. I, ch. i, 2. 7 Ibid., 3. 


tire and pain; the chief types are love, anger, and fear, 
the lowest form of love being sympathy, which differen- 
tiates into the social, sexual, and parental emotions, etc/ 
To sum up the main points in Bain's position. ( i ) The 
key to his psychology is found in the relation which he 
assumes between experience and motor impulse. Pre- 
vious writers regard sensation as an effect or consequent 
of stimulation. Bain not only accepts this view/ but 
makes the further assumption that sensation, or its 
nervous correlate, is accompanied by a direct motor tend- 
ency of some sort, and that this motor impulse is more 
pronounced the stronger the feeling element in the expe- 

(2) Discrimination, the elemental fact of intellect, is 
an original element in all experience, for consciousness 
itself implies change, and change involves primitive dis- 
crimination'. This theory was borrowed from Spencer 
after Bain's work first appeared, and is not thoroughly 
incorporated into his analysis in the later editions. 

(3) The revival of impressions without renewal of the 
external stimuli, resulting in ideas, is a fact explicable in 
physiological terms, and its psychological formulation ap- 
pears in the Law of Association. All varieties of intel- 
lectual experience and all trains of thought result from 
discrimination and revival according to the associative 
principles of contiguity and similarity. This is brought 
out in a very searching analysis. 

(4) Motor coordination and voluntary control result 
from the association of ideas with motor impulses ac- 
cording to the same laws. Chance unions and repetitions 
of favorable unions guide the coordinations into the 
proper channels. * Volition ' is not a fact of conscious- 
ness, however; tha consciousness of effort, deliberation, 
desire, and belief are ideas, not a new type of experience, 

(5) The emotions are traceable to complications of 
primitive feeling, motor impulse, and discrimination. 


(6) The fundamental facts of consciousness thus appear 
to be (a) primitive feeling sensation, as pleasure, pain, 
or 'neutral; (6) discrimination, or relativity of conscious- 
ness, which includes sense of similarity; and (c) associa- 
tive^revival, in the form of ideas. No other elements are 
needed, except the laws of the physical organism. 

9. Culmination of Pure Associationism 

Bain develops his analysis along rigidly associational 
lines. Even belief, in which J. S. Mill finds an irreducible 
element, is traced to associative principles. He empha- 
sizes the sequential character of consciousness; with few 
exceptions all experiences are successive, and conse- 
quently he finds no cases of simultaneous association. 
Thus he avoids dealing with the question of coalescence 
and mental chemistry. Apparently he accepts, with 
James Mill, the mechanical view of association or at 
least does not accept the ' chemical sfnalogy.' The elder 
Mill, however, believes in simultaneous association, which 
makes the mechanical character of his theory apparent, 
whereas there is nothing in Bain's analysis inconsistent 
with c mental chemistry ' if his few instances of simul- 
taneous experiences should necessitate the extension of 
association to synchronous intellectual experiences. 

Bain follows Hartley in laying stress on the nervous 
system and its functions. A long chapter is devoted to 
details of anatomy and physiology of brain, nerves, sense 
organs, and muscles. In this he appears to have set a 
pattern for many recent psychological treatises. His 
analysis of sensation is as full as James Mill's is brief, 
and he is a forerunner in this respect of the modern 
experimental movement. 

Bain's work marks the culmination of the * pure > asso- 
ciationist movement. The introduction of the conception 
of evolution into science wrought a change in the problem 


of mental growth, involving a reconstruction, or at least a 
restatement, of the notion of association. Bain's relation 
to this new trend in psychology will be discussed in the 
next chapter. 

Before passing to the last phase of associationism we 
should notice briefly three other writers who belong to 
this period. 

SAMUEL BAILEY (1791-1870), a writer on psychology, 
logic, and economics, in his ' Letters on the Philosophy 
of the Human Mind' (1855-1863) vigorously attacks 
the t faculty ' interpretation of mind. His empiricism 
leads him to question the Berkeleyan theory that dis- 
tance perception is an inference. 1 According to Bailey 
it is rather an associative experience of the same sort as 
the union of sensory data in other perceptual experiences, 

JOHN DANIEL MORELL (1811-1891) developed an em- 
pirical system of psychology in two works, 'Elements 
of Psychology' (1853) an( i * Introduction to Mental 
Philosophy 7 (1862). While adopting the associational 
standpoint in the main, he was largely influenced by 
Herbart. According to Morell similar ideas 'blend,' 2 
while the term association applies to the sequence of 
ideas. 3 The strength of an association, according to 
Morell, may in every case be stated as " equal to the 
amount of the action and reaction of the associated 
ideas." * 

JAMES STILLY (b. 1842) belongs in the main to the 
Scottish movement, but lays great emphasis on the asso- 
ciative process. In his * Outlines of Psychology ' (1884), 
while adopting the l faculty ' psychology, he accords first 
place to association under the laws of mind. 5 He dis- 
cusses the laws of association at considerable length, 6 fol- 
lowing Bain's treatment in the main. 

1 * Review of Berkeley's Theory of Vision/ 1842. 

2 'Intro./ Pt. Ill, ch. 3- 

3 Ibid., ch. 4* * Ibid., p. 177. 5 Pp- 29-36. Pp. 227-75. 


Sully 's later work, 'The Human Mind' (1892), de- 
votes more space to experimental and psychophysical 
results, but his general standpoint remains the same. 
He is not influenced by the evolution doctrine. In this 
work Sully adopts the notion of mental chemistry, 1 and 
follows Bain in his general treatment of association. 
Sully formulates a new law of association, which he calls 
the Law of the Dominant Element: " Where associative 
cohesion of two or more psychical elements is strong, the 
characters of dominant elements tend to be distributed 
over the whole compound." 2 

1 Vol. I, p. 190. 


1. The Evolution Concept in Psychology 

BAIN occupies a peculiar position in psychology. He 
had worked out his analysis along pure associational 
lines and had published his results while still under the 
influence of the older world-view, which held to the per- 
manency of biological species. The theory of fixed 
organic types carries with it the view that the mental 
constitution of each species is also fixed and changeless; 
hence the only sort of mental growth to be considered is 
the development of experience which arises from the 
action of the environment on the individual. The debate 
between ' nativists ' and * empiricists ' seemed to resolve 
itself into a question whether the c original constitution ' 
with which each individual begins life is in the nature of 
structure (innate ideas, mental forms, etc.), or of 
dynamic conditions (laws of association, etc.). The 
nativists provided the new-born infant not with actual 
mental currency, but with drafts payable to bearer at 
sight; the associationists started him off in life with 
neither money nor drafts, but merely with an introduc- 
tion to the bank, and compelled him to work his way 
to mental wealth according to the laws of associational 

Just as Bain was publishing his first volume, Herbert 
Spencer issued in its earliest form his work on ' Psy- 
chology ' (1855); an <l in the year in which Bain's second 
volume appeared Charles Darwin published the c Origin 
of Species ' (1859), and Spencer was beginning to outline 

1 18 


his evolution philosophy. The effect of the evolution con- 
cept on psychology was to reveal a possible intermediate 
position between the two conflicting schools. The indi- 
vidual biological organism, as even the ancients had ob- 
served, starts life with certain organs already formed in 
embryo and ready to function at birth; but according to 
the evolution theory the form of these organs is the result 
of a gradual process of modification and increasing com- 
plexity which occurs in race history. Similarly the 
individual mind may be pictured as starting in upon its 
independent career at birth with certain innate grounds 
of experience, which are likewise the result of a gradual 
formative process operating through actual experience in 
race history. This application of the evolution theory to 
psychology gave the a priori school a nominal victory, 
since its contention was literally substantiated; but em- 
pirical psychology came off with the real honors, since 
its protest against ' innate forms * was validated in the 
wider field of race history. 

Adopting the evolution view, other factors besides as- 
sociation might be introduced into an experience psy- 
chology. Such biological concepts as plasticity and fixity, 
rudimentary appearances and vestigial remnants, chance 
and determinate variation, the lapsing of intermediate 
links, etc., translated into psychological language, have a 
wider importance when applied to the growth of the mind 
in the race than when limited to the individual. The rela- 
tion of sensation to idea and the interplay of sensation 
and motor impulse require description along broader lines, 
in terms more analogous to the language of biology. The 
whole science of social psychology, including social data 
and social transmission, comes into being or at least at- 
tains maturity. On the other hand, these factors might 
easily be passed over. The association psychology might 
be transferred bodily to the new world-view with scarcely 
an alteration, by a mere change of emphasis at certain 


points from the development of individual experience to 
the evolution of experience types. 

The latter was what actually occurred in Bain's case. 
Though he adopted the evolution theory and revised his 
two earlier volumes in accordance with it, there are few 
changes of fundamental importance in the later editions 
of these works; while many of the changes which he did 
make, notably those due to his acceptance of the doctrine 
of relativity, were not directly due to the requirements of 
the new view. Although Bain adopts the evolution view 
in all but his first works, his system does not bear the 
marks of having been vitally affected by it. He stands 
by the older * mechanical ' viewpoint. His conception of 
association and its principles is based on the analogies 
of the physical sciences, rather than on biological analo- 

Spencer and Lewes, though one was born only two 
years later and the other a year earlier than Bain, both 
belong to a later generation in thought. They had 
assimilated the notion of evolution before undertaking 
their analysis of mental phenomena. Their psychology 
is the historical successor of the older associationism; but 
it re-examined the empirical standpoint and interpreted 
association in terms of evolution. They attempted a new 
analysis of consciousness and broadened its foundation to 
include many principles borrowed from the biological 
field. The evolution psychology, as worked out by 
Spencer and Lewes, is based essentially on the biological 
analogy. It is c mechanistic ' only in the widest sense of 
the term not physical, like the associationism of James 
Mill and Bain, nor chemico-physical, like that of the 
other earlier associationists, but ^chemico-physical. 
However we interpret their theory of being, their psy- 
chology is based on laws derived from the objective 
sciences, rather than on laws of a new and peculiar type; 
the pattern of these laws is found in the organic sciences 


first of all, and only secondarily in the laws of the in- 
organic world. 

2. Herbert Spencers Psychological Standpoint 

HERBERT SPENCER (1820-1903), a civil engineer in his 
younger life, relinquished this calling in 1847 for philos- 
ophy and science; he conceived about 1858 the notion 
that all cosmic phenomena constitute an evolution from 
"an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, 
coherent heterogeneity." Abandoning practically every 
other work he devoted forty years to the formulation of 
the laws of this evolutionary process and to elaborating 
their details in biology, psychology, sociology, and ethics. 

Spencer's * Principles of Psychology ' * being part of his 
larger ' System/ its starting-point is naturally the phe- 
nomena of organic life already dealt with in the preceding 
volumes on the c Principles of Biology. 3 Nervous activity 
is a particular mode of motion and conforms to the phys- 
ical laws of integration. "The actions of all organic 
beings, including those of our own species, are known to 
us only as motions." 2 When we study our own actions, 
however, there lies before us a class of facts absolutely 
without any perceptible or conceivable community with 
the facts revealed as nervous activity; the phenomena of 
consciousness are truths of which the very elements are 
unknown to physical science. Objective observation and 
analysis fail us, and subjective observation and analysis 
must supplement them. The changes which have been 
expressed in terms of motion have now to be expressed 
in terms of feeling. 3 

1 First ed., 1855, in one volume; 2d ed., 1870, essentially rewritten, 
in two volumes ; 3d ed., enlarged, 1880. 

2 <Pr. of Psychol.,' 3d. ed., Pt I, 7- 

3 Ibid., 41. In this and other passages cited, Spencers own lan- 
guage is partly quoted and partly paraphrased. Full quotation is 
impracticable on account of the elaborate qualifying clauses intro- 
duced which are not essential to the present discussion. 


Thus at the outset Spencer thrusts aside the material- 
istic hypothesis. According to him the two series, neural 
change and feeling, though absolutely different in sort, 
bear a quantitative relation to each other when all other 
things remain the same; this relation he expresses in 
terms of direct proportion, not according to the formula 
of Weber's Law. 1 The ultimate unit of consciousness is 
' little else than a nervous shock/ 2 using that term in a 
subjective sense not as molecular motion. Starting with 
this primordial element of consciousness, " the countless 
kinds of consciousness may be produced by the com- 
pounding of this element with itself and the recom- 
pounding of its compounds with one another in higher 
and higher degrees so producing increased multiplicity, 
variety, and complexity." It is probable that "all the 
unlikenesses among our feelings result from unlike 
modes of integration of this ultimate unit." 3 

Spencer reduces the elements of which mental phe- 
nomena are composed to " two broadly-contrasted kinds 
feelings and the relations between feelings"* The 
term feeling as he uses it is equivalent to any definite 
experience or state of consciousness. He divides feelings 
into three main classes according to their source: (i) 
Centrally initiated feelings, or emotions. All others are 
peripherally initiated, and are termed sensations; but 
they differ according as they originate in nerves whose 
endings are within the body or at its outer surface. The 
former give (2) entoperipheral feelings, which, though 
not peripheral in an anatomical sense, are physiologically 
peripheral, since they do not imply outer agencies. 
The latter give (3) epi-peripheral feelings, which are 
peripheral in every sense of the term, and imply outer 
agencies as stimuli. 5 Feelings of all three classes are di- 

1 47- 2 6o. Blind. * 65. 

5 66 ; cf. 1 12. These three classes correspond roughly to the 
recent division into interoceptors, proprioceptors, and exteroceptors 


vided into primary and secondary, by the criterion of 
vividness. 1 The primary feelings are those vivid states 
of consciousness which we know as sensations and emo- 
tions; the secondary are the faint states of consciousness 
which we know as remembered sensations or ideas of 
senations, and remembered or ideal emotions. 2 Vivid 
feelings have a tendency " to cohere with the faint forms 
of all preceding feelings like themselves "; such combina- 
tions are known as ideas, and are the units of knowledge. 3 

The relations between feelings are due to " the passage 
from one apparently-uniform state [of feeling] to another 
apparently-uniform state, implying the momentary shock 
produced by the commencement of a new state." 4 They 
occupy no appreciable part of consciousness, since they 
disappear if we take away the terms which they unite. 5 
The relations between feelings may be classified as rela- 
tions of coexistence, sequence, and difference? but they 
reduce in the last analysis to relations of difference and 
no-difference. 7 

The secondary or faint feelings may be regarded on 
the physiological side as revivals of corresponding pri- 
mary states. 8 Spencer finds that feelings of the different 
classes are revivable in proportion as they are relational. 9 
Visual sensations are the most revivable on this account, 
auditory come next, etc. 10 " The revivability of a feeling 
varies with its strength," and " with the number of times 
it has been repeated in experience." " Relations are more 
revivable in general than feelings. 12 Among other laws 
of revival, Spencer finds that present feelings of extreme 
vividness interfere with the revivability of past feelings, 
especially of feelings of the same order; for instance, a 
present visual sensation interferes with the revival of a 
visual image, 13 and in like manner presented relations 

3 73- 4 6/. 


8 97. *>Ibid. n 99- 12 105. 



hinder the representation of other relations, but in a 
lesser degree. 1 

Summing up, Spencer divides states of consciousness 
into two classes feelings and cognitions, the latter being 
states which correspond to the relations of feelings. Feel- 
ings consist of (i) presentative feelings, or sensations; 
(2) presentative-representative feelings, embracing a 
great part of what we commonly call emotions; (3) rep- 
resentative or ideational feelings, namely, the ideas of the 
two first classes of feelings; and (4) re-representative 
feelings, the most complex states of all, which include the 
higher sentiments, such as justice, etc. Cognitions fall 
into four corresponding classes, in which consciousness is 
occupied with relations of the feelings of these respective 
sorts. 2 

3. Spencer's Interpretation of Association 

The phenomenon which has been treated up to this 
point as nervous revivability and coherence, may be re- 
garded from another aspect as association. According to 
Spencer, cohesions may be otherwise described as associa- 
tions, and, other things equal, revivability varies as asso- 
ciability. 3 "On the one hand, we know feelings to be 
associable only by the proved ability of one to revive 
another," and "on the other hand, the revival of any 
feeling is effected only through the intermediation of some 
feeling or feelings with which it is associated. Hence, the 
conditions that favor revivability are those that favor 
associability." * As already noted, this revivability or as- 
sociability is in proportion as the states in question are 
relational. Emotions being less relational than sensa- 
tions, they are less revivable or associable than sensa- 
tions; and of the latter the ento-peripheral are less rela- 
tional, revivable, and associable than the epi-peripheral. 

s m. 4 ,ii2. 


Epi-peripheral feelings, which are sensations due to ex- 
ternal stimuli, even when they occur together or in suc- 
cession only a few times become linked in such a way 
that the vivid or the faint form of one arouses the faint 
forms of the rest. 1 

Association involves two problems: (i) the association 
of feelings, both vivid and faint; and (2) the association 
of the relations between feelings. 2 

As regards the association of feelings, Spencer believes 
that its only mode is the " cohering of each feeling with 
previously-experienced feelings of the same class, order, 
genus, species, and, so far as may be, the same variety." 3 
In other words, the only direct association of feelings is 
the association of some present sensation or emotion or 
idea with preceding feelings like itself. All other associa- 
tions of feelings are indirect and are due to the association 
of relations. The direct association of a sensation with 
its idea, that is, the phenomenon of revival, is automatic; 
it is " not an act of thought that may or may not take 
place, but constitutes the very recognition of each feel- 
ing." 4 Neurologically, "it answers to the re-excitation 
of the particular vesicle or vesicles which, when before 
excited, yielded the like feelings before experienced." 5 

Association of relations follows the same law as the 
association of feelings: Every relation, on being presented 
to consciousness, associates itself with like predecessors; 6 
that is, each recalls its own class and subclass of rela- 
tions. 7 Thus, when a sensation occurs in a relation of 
coexistence with another sensation (as when we see two 
things simultaneously), not only is the sensation in ques- 
tion automatically associated with its corresponding idea, 
but the relation of coexistence also automatically classes 
itself with relations of coexistence in general. 8 Coexist- 
ence, especially of the visual type, is the most relational, 


and hence the most associable relation; * "any coexisting 
positions visually presented are immediately associated in 
thought with the cluster of coexisting positions similarly 
related to us." s Relations of sequence are associable into 
simple combinations with considerable facility, though 
with less facility than coexistence; and there is con- 
siderable associability of coexistence with sequences. 3 
The association of relations " leads by perpetual repeti- 
tion to indissoluble connections in consciousness, which 
govern our thoughts absolutely." 4 

Spencer concludes that " knowing a relation, as well as 
knowing a feeling, is the assimilation of it to its past 
kindred; and knowing it completely is the assimilation of 
it to pass kindred exactly like it." 5 The association of 
coexistent or successive feelings, in fact, is due to the 
association of coexistent or successive relations, since it 
is the result of an association of spatial or temporal rela- 
tions; and this is true not only of simple feelings and their 
relations, but also of any plexus of relations among many 
feelings. 6 

This is the basis, then, of the so-called law of Associa- 
tion by Contiguity. When we analyze it, contiguity re- 
solves itself into likeness of relation in time or space or 
both. 7 In other words, 'according to Spencer the asso- 
ciation of one experience with another is the revival of 
an experience corresponding to the given one, in the form 
of an idea; and the association of relations among expe- 
riences is the revival of relations like those involved in 
tie given experience. Unlike experiences, though con- 
tiguous, are associated only through the revival of like 
experiences, or through revival of the temporal and 
spatial relations which constituted the basis of their con- 
tiguity in some earlier experience. 

It is important to notice here a change in terminology 

2 H9- 3 n8. 

120. Ibid. * Ibid. 


introduced by Spencer which, though slight, radically 
altered the complexion of the association problem for 
him. What Spencer calls relation of feelings, is precisely 
the phenomenon which associationists generally have 
called association; and what he terms association and re- 
duces to the fact of automatic revival, is classed by pre- 
ceding writers as an original datum of the mental life 
(idea}. His predecessors regarded ideation not as a form 
of association, but as one term in the associative 

From Spencer's standpoint the leading task of psy- 
chology is to account for ideational revival. Assuming 
that the primitive data of psychology are feelings, which 
are due to direct action of stimuli on the nervous system, 
in what manner are revivals (faint copies of these 
originals) produced by central excitation without direct 
action of the original stimuli? This is Spencer's concep- 
tion of the association problem. For his predecessors the 
problem was to account for the unity and complexity of 
experience. Assuming that the data of experience are 
sensations and their copies (ideas), how do these data 
come to be united into simultaneous complexes J and 
into successive * trains '? The concept of association was 
the instrument used to solve the difficulty. 

While Spencer by means of his revival theory explains 
perhaps more satisfactorily than earlier writers the 
physiological grounds of the ideation process, he does not 
throw much new light on the problem of complex expe- 
riences. He merely assumes an additional principle of 
union (which they included under association) in the 
guise of relations of feelings? This union of the rela- 

1 It is difficult to understand just what Spencer means psycho- 
logically by his relations of feelings whether he would regard them 
as * data of experience/ like sensations, or * mental forms/ such as 
Kant postulated. His physiological explanation of their occurrence 
is clear enough, but his discussion of their mental character seems 
vague. (See 65, 67,70-4-) 


tional type is quite distinct from revival, nor does he 
analyze its laws as fully as some of his predecessors. 

In fact, Spencer overlooks what most associationists con- 
sider the fundamental problem of psychology. Take any 
ordinary state of consciousness in the adult human expe- 
rience; we find that it consists in a complex of sensations 
and ideas; their < unity ' as a single present experience is 
a joining together (a conjunction, relation, or associa- 
tion) of some sort, or a multiplicity of such joinings, ac- 
cording to the associational view. The chief problem, 
according to these writers, is what produces this unity 
of consciousness, rather than how certain of the con- 
stituents come to be revivals of past experiences or of 
past unions. The repetition of an experience, whether 
sensation or idea, leads to the successive renewal of cer- 
tain elements which belonged to former similar experi- 
ence but which do not appear in the present experience 
at the outset; they become joined to it or succeed it 
because they were formerly united to its like, either 
coexistently or successively (law of contiguity). 

How comes it, then, that coexistent or successive ele- 
ments are experienced together in one complex, unitary 
experience? This is the fundamental problem of the as- 
sociationists. Brown simply assumes this unification as 
a fundamental and inexplicable fact; Hartley endeavors 
to show the physiological accompaniments of the process. 
But whatever the solution, the question is a crucial one 
for any empirical psychology. Spencer's postulate of re- 
lations of feelings affords the empiricist little direct help, 
though his theory of revival helps considerably by 

Important in its bearing on the law of association is 
Spencer's discussion of coexistence and succession. 
"Psychical life is distinguished from physical life by 
consisting of successive changes only, instead of succes- 
sive and simultaneous changes. . . . Though a visual 


impression makes us nascently conscious of many things, 
yet there is always some one thing of which we are 
more conscious than of the rest . . . Though the 
images of other things are all the while being impressed 
on the retina and are producing changes there, yet these 
are not appreciated internally are scarcely more than 
physical changes do not undergo that coordination with 
others which constitutes them psychical changes. . . . 
While the outer strands of changes which constitute the 
thread of consciousness are indefinite and loosely ad- 
herent, there is always an internal closely-twisted series 
of changes, forming what we may consider as conscious- 
ness proper." x Psychical changes, then, are relatively 
speaking serial, " and in proportion as they assume that 
most developed form constituting rationality they cohere 
into a seemingly-single succession of states. Though 
these states are physiologically composite, and were once 
psychologically composite, yet, to the extent that they 
have become consolidated elements of thought, they may 
rightly be regarded as severally simple." 2 

Spencer formulates three laws governing the degree of 
associability of experiences, which he bases on charac- 
teristics of the underlying physiological processes, (i) 
Vividness: " The connection formed between two feelings 
or ideas that occur together or in succession is strong 
when they are vivid and feeble when they are faint." 
(2) Repetition: " Repetition of the relation between two 
states of consciousness, presentative or representative, 
strengthens their union." (3) Decreasing gain: "For 
some time recurrences of a sequence go on appreciably 
increasing the readiness with which the antecedent excites 
the consequent; but the increase gradually becomes less 
and less appreciable." * 

To sum up, Spencer regards association as the revival 
of similar experiences. To this type he adds another 


form of union, the relation of experiences, which is the 
juncture of contiguous experiences. In the higher mani- - 
festations of consciousness this contiguity tends more and 
more to the form of succession, with corresponding loss 
on the side of coexistence. 

4. Derivation of Higher Mental States 

The derivation of the higher mental states is examined 
by Spencer in Part IV of his ' Psychology,' under the title 
of Special Synthesis. He starts with reflex action as the 
lowest form of psychical life the " most nearly related 
to physical life "; a it is the sole form observed in the 
lowest animal species, and constitutes the lowest type of 
mental process found in higher organisms. Reflex action 
is specially characterized by simultaneity: as in the case 
of physical transformations, "a great number of these 
simplest nervous changes go on quite independently in 
the same organism at the same moment." We find them 
occurring in ourselves without consciousness. 2 

The next higher form, instincts, includes compound 
reflex actions, 3 in which the diffused simultaneous changes 
are transformed into concentrated serial changes. 4 In its 
higher forms, instinct is probably accompanied by a rudi- 
mentary consciousness. 5 

Memory arises when the stimulus is so complicated 
that the nervous center cannot receive all the impres- 
sions at the same instant; it follows that the different 
impressions, being severally supplanted by one another, 
" will each of them consist of an incipient or faint form 
of that nervous state which would have accompanied the 
actual motor change had it occurred. But such a succes- 
sion of states constitutes remembrance of the motor 
changes which thus become incipient constitutes a 
memory. " e In conjunction with this motor memory there 

1 I92- z lbid. 8 I94. 

4 195- 5 Ibid. e 200. 


occurs in the organism at the same time and by the same 
process a memory of those combinations of impressions 
which it receives through the senses. " Of the impressions 
produced by adjacent objects during the movements of the 
organism, each is apt to make nascent certain other im- 
pressions with which it has been connected in experience 
calls up ideas of such other impressions; that is, causes 
a remembrance of the attributes previously found in con- 
nection with the perceived attributes. As these psychical 
states have in their turns been connected with others, they 
tend to arouse such others; and thus there arises that 
succession of ideas, partly regular, partly irregular, which 
we call memory." * 

There is no hiatus, according to Spencer, between in- 
stinct and reason; rational action, like instinctive action, 
is an adjustment of inner relations to outer relations. In * 
reason, however, "the correspondence is between inner 
and outer relations that are complex, or special, or ab- 
stract, or infrequent." 2 Consequently, the direction of 
association or union is more determinate. Each experi- 
ence comprised in a complex group resembles previous 
complex experiences in some ways, " yet it has presented 
some attributes which they did not present, and has not 
presented others which they did present." Hence, when 
such a complex group appears, "the ideas of one or 
more unperceived attributes will be aroused "; that is, 
they will appear as nascent states of consciousness they 
are said to be inferred? This is typical of all forms of 
rational process. 

"Beginning with reasoning from particulars to par- 
ticulars familiarly exhibited by children and by domes- 
tic animals the progress to inductive and deductive 
reasoning is similarly unbroken, as well as similarly 
determined. And by the accumulation of experiences is 
also determined the advance from narrow generalizations 


to generalizations successively wider and wider." 1 Classi- 
fication, naming, and recognition are special types of 
inference, all based on the idea of likeness or similarity. 2 

" Other things equal, the cohesion of psychical states 
is proportionate to the frequency with which they have 
followed one another in experience." 3 This Law of 
Frequency supplies an explanation of the so-called forms 
of thought and of our ideas of space and time, if it is 
supplemented by the law that habitual psychical succes- 
sions entail some hereditary tendency to such successions 
which, under persistent conditions, will become cumula- 
tive in generation after generation.* These predetermined 
internal relations constituting our ideas of space and time 
and the laws of thought, though independent of the ex- 
periences of the individual, are not independent of ex- 
periences in general: they have been determined by the 
experiences of prior-existing organisms. 6 

Spencer traces the higher development of feeling and 
of will in much the same way. Volition arises as follows: 
When the automatic actions become so involved, so varied 
in kind, and severally so infrequent, as no longer to be 
performed with unhesitating precision, action is delayed, 
and there is constituted a state of consciousness called 
deliberation, which, when it finally issues in action, dis- 
plays what we term volition. 9 

Our differentiation between subject and object rests, 
according to Spencer, on ten separate criteria. Subjec- 
tive states (i) are relatively faint; (2) they are succes- 
sors in time or copies of the objective; (3) they are 
changeable by volition in their qualities, (4) in their 
simultaneous order, and (5) in their successive order; 
(6) they form parts of a faint aggregate never known 
to be broken, which (7) is partially independent of the 
vivid aggregate, (8) with laws partly derived from the 

1 l2Q6. 2 3*0-13. 3 208. 

4 Ibid, s lbid. 6 2i8. 


other, partly peculiar to itself; (9) their antecedents are 
always traceable; and (10) they belong to a whole re- 
stricted to what we call memory. 1 

Objective states, on the other hand, are vivid, original, 
not changeable by volition, and form parts of a vivid 
aggregate with laws that originate within it. They have 
antecedents that may or may not be traceable, and they 
belong to a whole of unknown extent. 2 

The emotions, whether faint or vivid, belong to the 
faint aggregate, but they have the peculiar character of 
affecting the vivid aggregate by exciting muscular con- 
traction. 8 

The faint aggregate, taken as a whole, is termed the 
mind. The body is a special part of the vivid aggregate 
which coheres with mind in various ways and is regarded, 
now as belonging to the vivid aggregate, now as belonging 
to the same whole with the faint aggregate. The rest 
of the vivid aggregate, which has no such coherence with 
the faint aggregate, is the not-self. 41 The idea of power is 
a result of the experience of resistance, which the vivid 
aggregate arouses, 5 and this experience of resistance is 
the primordial, the universal, the ever-present constituent 
of consciousness; it exists even in the lowest orders of 
creatures, and comes to be the general symbol for that 
independent existence implied by the vivid aggregate. 6 

The differentiation into subject and object is not com- 
plete until quite late in the scale of evolution. Even in 
low stages of human evolution self-consciousness is very 
incomplete; the child and the savage continue to speak 
of themselves objectively. 7 

5. Spencer's Relation to Earlier Writers 

Comparing Spencer's analysis as a whole with that of 
the earlier British writers, we find that it proceeds accord- 

8 4<5o-i. 
465- e 466; cf. 347-8. 7 475P- 


ing to the same associational method. The more complex 
states are traced back to simpler states, of which they 
are associative aggregates; the higher manifestations of 
mind are regarded as unions (associations and relations) 
of lower forms of manifestations, very much as Hartley 
and the Mills regarded them. The evolution factor brings 
in a certain change of interpretation of the process. 
Spencer regards the more fundamental unions as having 
taken place far back in the scale of organic life, resulting 
from the first in certain permanent changes in the physical 
organism; such physical modifications appear even prior 
to experience in individuals belonging to later generations, 
and consequently many complex mental states occur at 
the very dawn of individual experience. 

Thus the meaning of repetition of associations is 
broadened, and the law of frequency or habit acquires a 
phylogenetic as well as an ontogenetic interpretation. 
The main problem remains substantially the same to 
account for repeated successions and higher complexities 
according to the principle of association; but granting the 
validity of this principle, its application to the growth of 
the individual mind as actually observed becomes more 
plausible. It had been urged as an objection to the asso- 
ciation theory that the comparatively few experiences of 
any individual are inadequate to account for the develop- 
ment of the space and time notions and of the rational 
functions without magnifying preposterously the per- 
manent effects of each particular association. But grant- 
ing evolution and the hereditary transmission of associa- 
tive effects in organic structure, the law of repetition is 
no longer strained, and the process appears at least per- 
fectly plausible. 

An important effect of the evolution concept, as we 
have seen, is to correlate psychology more closely with 
biology. From this viewpoint Brown's ultra-psychological 
analysis of consciousness appears to omit factors which 


would aid decidedly in explaining the process of associa- 
tion. For what persists phylogenetically is modification 
in the form of organic structure, not experiences them- 
selves. Hence, to understand the growth of consciousness 
in the individual as well as the race, the psychologist 
must study more closely the development of nerve struc- 
ture and the fundamental laws of nerve physiology. This 
side of the investigation is prominent in Spencer's work. 
He has quite as much to say concerning nervous function 
and types of motor activity as concerning states of con- 
sciousness; and that without in any wise identifying the 
two, or * deducing 7 consciousness from neural or mo- 
lecular changes. 

In short, the transformation of the analysis brought 
about by the evolution view affects the details,, the distri- 
bution of emphasis, and the terminology, without modify- 
ing any of the essential factors or laws of association. 
The principle of association remains an effective working- 
hypothesis; its psychological meaning is practically un- 
altered. The individual peculiarities of Spencer's analysis 
of the association process are quite distinct from his evo- 
lution standpoint. 

The chief features of Spencer's psychology, so far as 
they concern us here, may be summed up as follows: 
(i) His theory of the relativity of consciousness. Con- 
sciousness appears only with changes in stimulation. 
This is an extension of the observed fact that a long- 
continued stimulation is less and less attended to. 1 

(2) His classification of the phenomena of conscious- 
ness (or mental life) into feelings and relations of feel- 
ings, and the identification of association with revival. 
Spencer, we have seen, regards the passage from one con- 
scious state to another as a datum of mental life, though 

1 Like His hypothesis that "all motion is rhythmical" ('First 
Princ./ Pt. II, ch. ip, 82), it appears to be an induction extended 
far beyond observation. 


not a feeling. This relation of feelings corresponds, in 
a way, to the relativity of consciousness regarded as a 
function of the stimulus. When the passage is from sen- 
sation to revived idea, that is, from a vivid experience 
to its faint copy, he terms it association, or. revival. He 
thus distinguishes two sorts of union relation and 

(3) Relations of feelings reduce to coexistence, se- 
quence, and difference or, in the final analysis, to rela- 
tions of difference and no-difference. While in early 
experience coexistent states are more relational than 
successive, as the mind becomes more complex experi- 
ence tends more and more to the successive, and less to 
the coexistent type of contiguity. Association or revival, 
whether of feelings or relations, proceeds by similarity 
or assimilation of the present to similar past experiences. 

(4) Spencer mentions three laws of the degree of as- 
sociability vividness, repetition, and decreasing gain. 

(5) Consciousness is classified into feelings and cog- 
nitions, the latter including states based on relations of 
feelings. Spencer's analysis of complex and higher con- 
scious states is based (a) on certain differences in their 
elementary constituents (external and internal stimula- 
tion, revival) and (6) on the inheritance of the effects 
of association and relation. The motor element he re- 
gards as the physical concomitant of mind, not as an 
element or sort of consciousness. 

(6) Spencer leaves entirely out of his discussion the 
problem of r mental synthesis,' He does not reject it, but 
it seems to lie outside of his scope. 1 In the first place, 
he regards mental association and relation in their higher 
stages as phenomena of succession, which would obviate 
the problem. And second, his psychology, being part of 
a larger system of philosophy, is concerned mainly with 
quantity and quantitative relations, and only slightly with 

1 See ' Psychol./ 73-4, 55, *5a 


differences of sort? Spencer's * unity of composition ' of 
mental phenomena 2 is an extension to the realm of mind 
of the primordial c indefinite homogeneity ' which charac- 
terizes the cosmos. " Compound impressions," he says, 
"continually approach in their apparent characters to 
simple impressions; " their elements eventually become 
distinguishable from one another only by analysis. 3 
Whether this mental analogue of physical * integration * 
has any qualitative meaning, he does not say. His state- 
ment of the process is much like James Mill's, but the 
notion of integration apparently has some real signifi- 
cance, and certainly does not tally with Mill's mechanical 
conception of mental composition. 

6. The Psychology of G. H. Lewes 

GEORGE HENRY LEWES (1817-1878), a writer in many 
fields of literature, editor for some time of the Fort- 
nightly Review, and domestic helpmate of the novelist 
Mary Ann Evans (* George Eliot '), is known in phi- 
losophy and psychology by his * Biographical History of 
Philosophy ' (1854-6),* his ' Physiology of Common Life ' 
(1859-60), and a series of volumes entitled 'Problems 
of Life and Mind' (1874-9). 5 This last work develops 

1 When I see a red rose, I have a peculiar qualitative experience 
of * redness.* Spencer seems to regard this qualitative phenomenon 
as peculiar to subjective psychology, an interesting fact, but of no 
more scientific value than the dot over an * in the statement of one 
of Newton's laws. 

2 380. 

3 169. 

4 Revised editions to 1880. 

5 The first series of the Problems, Vols. I and II, with sub- 
title 'Foundations of a Creed/ includes Introduction, Psychological 
Principles (Psy. Pr.), and six Problems. The second series, 
Vol. Ill, entitled 'The Physical Basis of Mind/ with the serial 
title subordinate, contams four Problems (1-4). The third series 
(posthumous), embracing Vols. IV and V, takes the serial title 
again, and contains four Problems; the subtitle of Vol. IV is 'The 
Study of Psychology/ from the problem discussed VoL V has no 
subtitle. In citing this work the volume (from I to V), problem. 


in detail his views of the nature of mind and his system 
of psychology. The final volume was never revised by 
the author; it is not arranged in proper sequence and con- 
tains many redundancies. But it is quite readable and 
complete with the exception of the last Problem; this 
was written shortly before the author's death and is 
merely a sketch. 

Lewes is an acute and logical thinker, and his * Prob- 
lems 7 carry the associational analysis to its historical 
culmination. One could only wish that he had written 
a briefer statement of his position in one or two volumes, 
taking up the analysis in a single, orderly sequence with 
less discussion and fewer illustrative examples. The inner 
consistency and force of his system would then have ap- 
peared to better advantage, and Lewes would probably 
have exerted a greater influence on the development of 
psychology in England. 1 The fact remains that Lewes's 
system has not been noticed to the extent of Bain's or 
Spencer's, although it seems to deserve greater attention 
on the part of psychologists on account of its striking 
adaptation of the traditional English position to the 
new results of biological research and to the evolution 

Besides several notable advances in the manner of per- 
forming the mental analysis and some improvements in 
nomenclature, Lewes makes two original contributions to 
the analysis itself. In the first place, he lays special 
emphasis upon the social side as a factor in mental evo- 
lution; and second, in place of the usual distinction be- 
tween sensations and ideas, he adopts a threefold divi- 
sion into sensations (or feelings), images, and ideas (or 

and section are given. Section numbers run through each 'prob- 
lem * separately. 

1 Lewes would probably have been more carefully studied in 
spite of his prolixity, had not the general trend of psychology 
during the next decades been away from associationism. See 
Chapter VIII. 


conceptions), attributing a special symbolic character to 
the third. 

(1) Lewes's conception of the special importance of 
social phenomena for mental science is traceable to 
Auguste Comte. But in opposition to Comte he insists 
that we must treat psychology as an independent science. 
The data of psychology, he affirms, are contributed by 
biology and sociology. The biological data furnish the 
starting-point of both animal and human psychology. 
The sociological data appear only in the human sphere 
and form the basis of the human intellectual and moral 
life, as distinguished from the animal sentient life. 1 
Such diverse phenomena as folk-customs, traditions, arts, 
tools, science-lore, literature, depend on the system of 
intellectual signs known as language; and language exists 
only as a social function. 2 

(2) The primary form of sensibility, which Lewes calls 
feeling, 3 includes sensibility resulting from external stimu- 
lation (special sensations, the 'sensations 5 of earlier 
psychologists), and sensibility due to systemic stimula- 
tion (systemic sensations or emotion). A reproduced feel- 
ing constitutes an image. But when the image has lost its 
original value and has become merely a sign or symbol of 
some feeling different from itself, it then becomes an idea 
or conception. 4 This triple division he also borrows from 
Comte, 5 though the third element is found implicitly in 
most of the associationists. 6 The manner in which the 
image is transformed into the idea and the role of ideas 

i * Probs./ VoL I, Psy. Pr., i. 
^ Ibid., 10. 
3V, Prob. 2, 3-S- 

*I, Psy. Pr., 44, 64-5, 25; V, Prob. 4, 26-8; V, Prob. 2, 

5 V, Prob. 3, note following 14. 

6 It is to be regretted that Lewes did not work out more fully and 
consecutively his distinction between image and idea. He em- 
phasizes the striking difference in their associative^ value (* logic'), 
but his discussion of the nature of symbolic experience is scattered 
about in various parts of his work. 


in psychological evolution will be examined presently. 
The important point here is that Lewes regards ideas or 
conceptions as essentially a social product and instru- 
ment; they are signs, whose objective expression is 

While Lewes agrees with Spencer in laying special 
stress on physiology and biological evolution as a basis 
of explanation for psychological phenomena, he does not 
go to Spencer's length of regarding the biological stand- 
point as furnishing the only scientific element in psy- 
chology. He endeavors to maintain an equilibrium be- 
tween the objective and subjective sides of the science, 
and puts forth an earnest plea for introspection as an 
instrument of research. 1 He claims that what the data 
of introspection lack in quantitative exactness they make 
up for in possessing the highest degree of certainty; the 
results of external observation or objective analysis, on 
the other hand, though preeminently exact, lack this ele- 
ment of surety or conviction. 2 

7. Association and Logical Grouping 

Lewes starts with sensibility, which he uses as a general 
term for the material of psychology. The psychical 
organism evolves from ' psychoplasm,' or * sentient ma- 
terial*' The psychoplasm is ever fluctuating; it is con- 
stantly being renewed, and these movements constitute 
the function of sensibility. 3 Sensibility is the internal 
factor, to which corresponds, on the physiological side, 
" the successions of neural tremors variously combining 
into neural groups "; 4 it includes both consciousness and 
subconsciousness. 5 

There are three fundamental laws of sensibility: (i) 

* IV, Prob. i, 50-1, 62-6. 2 
I, Psy. Pr., 6; cf. Ill, Prob. i, 60. 

* I, Psy. Pr., 6; cf. V, Prob. 2, 33. 

I, Psy. Pr., 33; cf. Ill, Prob. 3, 50-2. 


Interest: "We see only what interests us, know only 
what is sufficiently like former experiences to become, 
so to speak ; incorporated with them assimilated by 
them." 1 

(2) Signature: Every feeling " has its particular signa- 
ture or mark in consciousness, in consequence of which 
it acquires its objective localization, i.e., its place in the 
organism or in the cosmos." 2 Signature is Lewes's term 
for the individuality or specific identity of each particular 
sensation or experience. 

(3) Experience, or registration of feeling: "Through 
their registered modifications, feelings once produced are 
capable of reproduction, and must always be reproduced, 
more or less completely, whenever the new excitation is 
discharged along the old channels." 3 

Sensibility becomes organized into definite mental 
states along with the evolution of the physical organism, 
and in modes best described by reference to the cor- 
responding biological processes. In physiological reaction 
we find a threefold process stimulation, coordination, 
and discharge; the psychological equivalents of these are 
sensible affection, logical grouping, and impulse* The 
sensible affection includes, as we have seen, sensibility 
resulting from both external and systemic stimulation. 5 
But " no reaction on a stimulation can be called forth 
without revival of residua of past stimulations." 6 These 
revival states or images arise according to two funda- 
mental processes, irradiation and restriction, whose laws 
may be stated on the physiological side as follows: 
(i) Irradiation. Every wave impulse is irradiated and 
propagated throughout the system. (2) Restriction. 

iPsy. Pr. r 9; cf. V, Prob. 2, 74-6- 
si, loc. cit; cf. V. Prob. 3, 117-8. 
s I, loc. cit.; cf. V, Prob. 2, cbu 4. 
*V, Prob. 2, 33- 
I, Psy. Pr., 28. 
6 V, Prob. 2, 35- 


Every impulse is restricted, and by its restriction a group 
is formed. 1 

Revival states, or reinstatements, are due physio- 
logically to the irradiative tendency, by which any given 
neural process tends to re-excite those processes which 
formerly were excited in conjunction with it, or which 
are anatomically linked with it. 2 On the subjective side 
this means that a sensation formerly connected with the 
given sensation may be reproduced with fainter energy as 
an image. 3 Physiologically, the irradiative tendency is 
limited by the definite pathways of discharge cut by 
previous stimulations the law of restriction; 4 on the 
psychological side this means that the given sensations 
will tend to re-excite certain groups of fainter feelings of 
previous impressions, so that they are grouped into a 
judgment or perception. 5 

' Irradiation and restriction work together in the process 
of Reinstatement, whose law is as follows: " Every 
mental state will be reinstated whenever the conditions of 
its production are reproduced; and the reinstatement will 
be more or less complete according to the more or less 
perfect reproduction of the original conditions." 6 The 
directly excited feeling (sensation or presentation) is dis- 
tinguished by its greater vividness from the indirectly ex- 
cited or reproduced feeling (image or representation). 
The former is fitly considered real, because it has objec- 
tive reality (res) for its antecedent stimulus; the latter 
is ideal, because its antecedent is a subjective state. 7 

Association, according to Lewes, is a special form of 
the process of Reinstatement Reinstatement is group- 
ing; association is " the grouping of groups which are not 
connected by any necessary anatomical links. Processes 
which depend on the native mechanism, although de- 
pendent on the connection of groups, are not called asso- 

ilbid., 36. !, Psy. Pr, 37. 3 42. *35. 

* I, Psy. Pr, 3a V, Prob. 2, 8a f I, Psy. Pr., $43. 


ciative processes. Association is acquisition." * Without 
discussing the laws of this restricted type of association 
at all systematically, Lewes refers his readers to Bain's 
exhaustive analysis, which he accepts 4he main. He 
notes, however, two phenomena of association which Bain 
fails to take properly into account; <(i ) " The enormous 
influence of the emotional factor ... in determining 
the reinstatement of images and ideas." ^> " The influ- 
ence of obscure organic motors, manifested in the sudden 
irruption of incongruous states the orderly course of 
association being burst in upon by images and ideas hav- 
ing none of the normal associative links." 2 

It is not clear why Lewes restricts the meaning of the 
term association to such narrow limits. He goes even 
further than Spencer in this respect. Spencer limits the 
term to revival by similarity. Lewes makes it a sort of 
adventitious revival; he harks back to Locke's notion of 
a connection " wholly owing to chance or custom." His 
broad treatment of the process, however, fully warrants 
us in considering Lewes an associationist, in spite of his 
peculiar restriction of the term. Historically, association 
corresponds closely to what Lewes calls grouping, or 
logical process. And this logic, or grouping of elements, 
enters fundamentally into his system, as we shall see; it 
begins at the lowest and simplest states and follows 
through to the highest and most complex. 

The grouping or coordination of experience can be 
understood only when interpreted as part of the entire 
reactive process, whose three terms on the psychological 
side are affection, grouping, and impulse. The grouping 
process is of significance only as it leads to some new 
or more integrated form of impulse and activity. And 
just as grouping determines impulse, so it is determined 

1 V, Prob. 2, 94- In this passage Lewes accepts Spencer's con- 
ception of * association/ not the wider connotation of earlier writers. 


by affective data. The modifications of neural structure 
caused by past impressions are what determine the 
specific neural grouping; on the subjective side it is the 
residua of former experiences that determine the specific 
mode of grouping in any instance, 

Grouping, then, depends not only on the stimulus at 
the present moment ; but also on the entire condition of 
the organism as determined by its past history in other 
words, it depends on the self, as determined by the indi- 
vidual's whole past experience, as truly as on the given 
presentation. 1 "When once a neural group, however 
complex, has been formed, it operates like a simple unit, 
and enters as such into the combination of other groups." 
So, on the subjective side, sensations which were originally 
independent are " brought into such convergence by inter- 
mediate links that they now coalesce and act together 
without the need of such intermediation "; for example, 
visual and tactile sensations combine to form " an intui- 
tion of form and size of an object; but these having 
coalesced, and the intuition being effected, we no longer 
need the intermediate process." 2 This is the simul- 
taneous aspect of grouping. 

The serial aspect is more important. In accordance 
with the law of irradiation, " one excitation of the sen- 
sorium sets going associated excitations, the associations 
rising out of prior modifications." 3 This results in a 
series of images and ideas, whose specific course is deter- 
mined according to the law of restriction. Restriction 
operates in accordance with two distinct factors: the 
specific revival depends (i) on the harmony of the image 
to be revived with the ground-tone of feeling or mental 
predisposition at the time, and (2) on the energy of the 
image. 4 This grouping of experiences in serial order is 

1 & p y - F n ' P~~ Iaw of ** ; v Pn 2 77, 166-72. 

2 V, Prob. 2, 136. 
3V Prob.2,42. 
* 102. 


what Lewes terms the logical process, or in brief, logic. 
As a psychological process, logic is "not simply the 
process of reasoning, but that which is common to reason- 
ing and to all other modes of combination belonging to 
mental states. This common process is coordination, or 
grouping of neural elements." 1 One mental state thus 
determines its successor, and is included in it. 2 

All experience, even its lowest forms, involves coordina- 
tion. On the physiological side, this process of coordina- 
tion results from the tendency of stimuli to general 
irradiation and restriction of such irradiation by previous 
modifications of structure to more or less habitual paths. 
On the mental side, therefore, the experience grouped 
with the given experience would be one that had been 
contiguous to it in some past primary experience. And 
since the associated element is always a revival a rein- 
statement, not a mere copy 3 only the law of contiguity 
would seem to apply; in other words, the law of similarity 
would appear to have no place in association. Lewes is 
apparently mistaken in believing that he agrees with Bain 
in this part of his analysis, since the latter admits both 
contiguity and similarity as associative principles. He 
differs with Bain still further in assuming an association 
by contrast. 4 It should be noticed, however, that Lewes 
admits these principles only as laws of * casual 7 associa- 
tion, not of the general logical process. 5 

While he does not expressly admit that the synthetic 
process yields anything really new in chemistry or in 

iV, Prob. 3, 2. Lewes uses the term neural element here and 
frequently elsewhere to denote the primitive, unanalyzable element 
of experience. 

3V, Prob. 4, 8- 

*V, Prob. 2, ioo-i. 

5 Possibly Lewes would have reduced these " groupings of groups 
which are not connected by any necessary anatomical links" to 
irradiation and restriction also, and attributed all association to 
contiguity, had he repeated for himself Bain's analysis. 


mental grouping, 1 several passages show that Lewes rec- 
ognizes a qualitative variation; he concedes that the effect 
of mental synthesis is, in appearance at least, similar to 
what chemical synthesis appears to be. Causation, he 
says, is of two sorts: the effect may be " the resultant of 
its components, the product of its factors "; or, in cases 
of cooperation of things of unlike kinds, the effect is an 
emergent, that is, it is c qualitatively unlike y the causes. 2 
Quality is a primary fact of feeling which enters into 
every subjective synthesis; 3 and no matter how much 
we strive to reduce psychology to quantitative terms, " no 
variation of undulations will really correspond with varia- 
tion in color, unless we reintroduce the suppressed quality 
which runs through all color." 4 

8. Lewes' s Analysis of Mental Phenomena 

Lewes attributes not only the higher types of experi- 
ence, but all definite experience, including sensation itself, 
to the grouping or logical process. "A sensation is a 
group of neural tremors." 5 Given the hypothetical 
simple element underlying experience, which he calls a 
neural tremor, such tremors are grouped into definite 
sensations by the irradiative tendency which unites to 
them the residua of past tremors. 6 A perception is " the 
synthesis of all the sensations we have had of the object 
in relation to our several senses "; T this includes sec- 
ondary elements (images) as well as primary (sensa- 

The application of the grouping principle to space per- 
ception is typical: extension is perceived as a continuum, 
he says, inasmuch as by irradiation " there is a necessary 

iSee I, Psy. Pn, 88. 211, Prob. 5, 65-6. 

* Prob. 2, 31. Mil, Prob. 3, 5- 

s V, Prob. 2, 35; cf. I, Psy. Pr., 24. 

As already noted, tbe term neural tremor is used subjectively. 
'I, Psy.Pr.,25. 


blending of the discrete points, a fusion of the similar 
tremors." x And the observed temporal unity of con- 
sciousness admits of explanation in the same way, the 
serial order of conscious experiences being the result of 
serial irradiation. 2 

A remembered sensation is something more than a 
repetition of the sensation: the repetition of the stimulus 
causes in addition a stimulation of residua, which furnish 
an escort of other states.' 3 Memory differs from per- 
ception in the character of this escort: in memory the 
escort is of states constituting the field of personal expe- 
rience, in perception the escort lacks that definite per- 
sonal character. 4 Memory is a grouping of image ele- 
ments as they occurred in the past. Imagination differs 
from memory in that its personal escort has reference to 
the present or future, not to the past. 5 In plastic or con- 
structive imagination the image elements are grouped in 
new ways. 6 " Images, although reproductions of percep- 
tions, possess a property not possessed by perceptions, 
namely, that of facultative reproduction, which enables 
them to be abstracted from the sensible order of presen- 
tation, and combined and recombined anew." 7 Emotions 
are to be regarded under two aspects as sensations and 
as impulses which guide action; under the former aspect 
" they belong to the systemic more than to the special 
affections, but are complexes of both." 8 

All the above-named forms of grouping belong to the 
logic of feeling, or to its subdivision, the logic of images. 
The grouping of ideas, or symbols, or conceptions, consti- 
tutes the logic of signs.* In the mode of grouping known 
as logic of images, the image becomes the representative 

iPsy. Pr., 35- 
2 /Z>tU, 36. 

3 V, Prob. 2, 82. This 'escort* corresponds to what William 
James later called the " fringe of consciousness." 
*IfoU, 87. 5 92. 93- 

* I, Psy. Pr., 64. V, Prob. 3, 154- 9 1* Psy. Pr., 25, 


of its sensation; it is a sort of substitute, but a substitute 
which is more or less equivalent to the thing signified. 1 

With the growth of organization " these images may be 
replaced by signs which have no trace of the sensations 
signified"; 2 they are substitutes of sensations, not rein- 
statements. 3 This higher type of reproductive states 
Lewes calls ideas, as distinguished from images* Words 
are signs of this sort; the auditory symbol horse has no 
likeness to the visual or other sensations which the idea 
symbolizes it may not even awaken a visual image of 
the horse; yet such verbal symbols "operate quite as 
effectually as the images." 5 Verbal symbols (language) 
arise as a result of social intercourse they could not have 
arisen without it. For this reason and also because a 
high degree of nervous organization is requisite for the 
production of words, language belongs solely to the human 
species. 7 

Ideas, with all their substitutive and symbolic value, 
could never have developed ab initio in an individual's 
single lifetime. But according to the evolution theory 
they are not innate in the older sense rather, they are 
con-nate. 8 The advent of language introduces a new fac- 
tor into the environment namely, the social medium, 9 In 
the higher stages of mind, where ideas exist, we find a 
social as well as a physical environment, an ideational as 
well as affective self. 10 

Ideas group themselves according to the same princi- 
ples as images. Serial groupings of ideas constitute 
thought, or the logic of signs. Since ideas are general 

V, Prob. 2 t 137; Prob. 4, 28. 
2 V, Prob. 2, 137. 
V, Prob. 4, 26. 

* Ibid. This gives still another meaning to the much-defined term 
idea. It would seem more in keeping with historic usage to make 
idta the generic term, including imagery and thought as its species; 
thought would be the symbolic type of ideation. 

5 X*. J rob ' 2 ' * 37 * 6 X ' Psy - Pr " I0 > 54, 63 ; V, Prob. 4, ch. 6. 
7 fad- 8 1, Psy. Pr., 57, 60 ; cf. 8. 

* Ibid., 10, 57- 10 V, Prob. 2, 168, 171-2. 


and flexible, while images and perceptions are always 
particular and fixed, 1 we are able in thought to pass 
rapidly and easily from one term to another, in a way 
that would be impossible were it necessary to translate 
each idea into a specific image. 2 It is this use of the 
general symbol that constitutes the superiority of the 
human over the animal mind. 3 The logic of signs enables 
man to act with reference to more distant ends, as the 
symbols become further removed from direct correspond- 
ence to sensations; 4 whereas, the * reasoning ' of animals 
is always in terms of sensations and images. 3 * Associa- 
tions * in the narrower sense are generally symbolic, 
whence the phrase association oj ideas* 

The developed processes of thought form the intellect, 
or rational functions, or reflection. 7 All these processes 
judgment, induction, deduction are reducible to the 
1 logic of signs '; s they culminate in the laws of thought, 
which Lewes focuses into a single principle of equiva- 
lence 9 an affirmative counterpart of the criterion of cer- 
titude which Spencer states in negative form as the incon- 
ceivability of the contrary. 

The consciousness of volition includes two factors 
according to Lewes: (i) the feeling of effort in attention, 
which is reducible to muscle sensations; 10 (2) an inner- 
vation feeling, due to the irradiation of the outgoing motor 
impulse back toward the center* 1 But the consciousness 
attending volition is merely an incidental feeling linked 

* 1, Psy. Pr., 25 ; V, Prob. 4, 27. 2 V, Prob. 4, 61 ; cf. chs. 5, 6. 

s Ibid., 45-3. 4 1, Psy. Pr., 27. 

5 V, Prob. 4, 40-4- 6 V, Prob. 2, 94. 

7 In several passages Lewes makes discrimination the funda- 
mental fact of intellect; he appears to use the term to denote the 
selective or restrictive effect of grouping. Though he does not 
explicitly say so, he apparently applies the term discrimination to 
the subjective aspect of 'restriction' and selection to its objective or 
neural aspect. (See I, Psy. Pr., 17; III, Prob. 4, 5i, 53; V, 
Prob. I, 104, I5i.) 

8 II, Prob. 2, chs. 2-4. II, Prob. 2, chs. 4, 5. 

1 V, Prob. 2, 157- " V, Prob. 3, 82-91, esp. 87. 


with it; the motor side of subjective phenomena is im- 
pulse or action, rather than feeling. The grouping or 
coordinating process is the guide which controls the 
impulse, and thereby regulates conduct. In the broadest 
view of psychology "the significance of mental phe- 
nomena is their relation to conduct. 3 ' 1 

9. Lewes's Contributions to the Problem 

The main features of Lewes 7 s psychology, in so far as 
they bear on the association problem, may be summed 
up as follows: (i) He takes the concept of biological 
evolution from Darwin and Spencer, and carries it out 
on the psychological side more fully than they. 

(2) He interprets the laws of nervous irradiation and 
restriction in mental terms, under the single law of 
Reinstatement, which serves to account at once for (a) 
the distinction between primary and secondary feeling, or 
sensation and image, and for (b) the grouping or asso- 
ciative function of mental phenomena, which he terms 

(3) The grouping tendency accounts for all complex 
forms of experience, from sensation upwards, the only 
datum not attributable to grouping being the hypo- 
thetical underlying element, the neural tremor. 

(4) The tendency to use part of a complex experience 
as a sign for the whole, which is a general phenomenon 
of mental activity, evolves to a higher form in the human 
mind. In man arbitrary associated elements (ideas) 
come to be used as symbolic signs for sensations and 
images which they in no wise resemble. This symbolism 
and logic of signs arises out of social intercourse, for 
which words and language afford a convenient, flexible, 
and adequate medium. ' 

(5) Images are individual, concrete, specific ideas are 

f., 15. 


general, abstract. The sequence of ideas ? or logic of 
signs, is therefore more facile and more adaptable than 
the logic of feeling or the logic of images. Ideas and 
ideational processes constitute the intellectual side of the 
mental life, and intellect is its highest form. 

(6) An established group, which has become a single 
experience (intuition), is characterized by a higher degree 
of belief, conviction, certainty, than a group in the mak- 
ing (inference); intuitions of sensations and images 
(called perceptions) are distinguished from intuitions of 
ideas (conceptions); and inferences of sensations and 
images (memories, hallucinations, imaginations* are dis- 
tinguished from inferences of ideas (judgment, reason- 

(7) Lewes applies the term association in an unusual 
way to that special sort of grouping in which the ele- 
ments are casually brought together by contiguity, simi- 
larity, or interest. Grouping in general, which he calls 
logic, proceeds by the revival of identical elements in the 
form of images, the revival operating from one element 
to another according to the principle of contiguity only. 
He applies Bain's treatment of association in general to 
his own ' casual associations/ 

To appreciate the breadth of Lewes's viewpoint we 
should also note several other points which bear on our 
problem only slightly, (i) His conception of the co- 
operation of organism and environment in experience. 
The present stimulus and the self due to one's entire past 
experience work together; any given experience is a re- 
sultant of these two factors. (2) His extension of the 
nervous arc concept to psychology- Feeling or affection, 
logic or grouping, impulse or action, are the mental 
equivalents of the three sides of the nervous arc; they 
. form the psychological spectrum, whose combination con- 
stitute? mentality. (3) His endeavor to give proper 
.weight to both the subjective and objective sides of psy- 


chology to the method and data of introspection as well 
as to the method and data of external observation. 
(4) His demarcation between external sensations and the 
systemic sensations. This distinction deserves special 
notice on account of the prominent role which he assigns 
to the latter. 

To grasp Lewes's system as a whole requires consid- 
erable effort. His style is prolix and his development is 
not always systematic. He is careless of detail, incon- 
sistent on some points, and obscure in his treatment of 
others. Yet upon close examination he proves to be the 
most consistently associational of all psychologists. 
Lewes deserves far more study than has been accorded 
him by recent writers; and especially does he deserve the 
attention of genetic psychologists. Those who wish to 
know at first hand the evolutionary associationism at its 
best, should read his final volume. 1 Though not a com- 
plete exposition, it contains most of the essential points 
of his psychology, and corrects many of his earlier incon- 

10. Other XlXth Century Associationists 

Among the many writers whose psychology shows the 
influence of Spencer and Lewes, the following may be 
cited as most closely related to the association movement. 

JOSEPH JOHN MXJRPHY (1827-1894), though a believer 
in innate intelligence, lays stress on association, which 
he holds to be a racial growth. In his * Habit and Intel- 
ligence * (1869) he declares that association enters into 
every mental process except the most elementary; 2 " a 
complete treatise on the laws of association would be 
nothing less than a complete treatise on psychology." 3 
The laws of association, however, while they would ac- 

1 'Problems of Life and Mind/ Vol. V. 2 Vol. II, p. 54. 

8 VoLI,p.55. 


count for the origin of thought, would not account for 
our belief that a thought corresponds to an external 
reality. 1 This and other complex phenomena of con- 
sciousness depend on a principle of organizing intelli- 
gence. 2 

W. K. CLIFFORD (1845-1879), in his * Lectures and 
Essays/ devotes an essay to * Some of the Conditions of 
Mental Development/ in which he maintains that " the 
first indication of consciousness is a perception of dif- 
ferences." 3 The essay on * Body and Mind/ which is 
based on the hypothesis of parallelism, and his volume 
on c Seeing and Thinking * (1879) also show the influence 
of the association psychology. 

The contributions of Francis Galton (1822-1911), 
whose numerous studies on mental heredity are based on 
the standpoint of Spencer and Lewes, will be discussed in 
connection with the recent experimental work on asso- 

i P. 152. 2 P. 54- 3 VoL I, p. 97 * Chapter VIII. 


L Development of the Association Concept from 
Hobbes to Hume 

THE analysis of mental processes which the English 
school carried out is a logical result of their philosophical 
attitude. These writers employed the empirical method 
in philosophy. They were concerned in demonstrating 
that all knowledge is derived from experience that it 
occurs without the mediation of innate ideas which were 
supposed by their opponents to exist in the mind prior 
to experience. To establish their contention it was neces- 
sary to analyze the character of experience and show that 
knowledge can be accounted for in terms of empirical 
data alone. Assuming that impressions due to external 
stimuli give rise to sensations of a definite character, how 
do these sensations become organized into knowledge? 

What struck these writers most forcibly at the outset 
of their psychological analysis was the observed fact that 
one experience succeeds another with a certain degree of 
regularity. In such sequences, moreover, the prior expe- 
rience does not vanish entirely before the succeeding one 
begins to appear; there is a union of some sort between 
the two members of the sequence. This fact of union, 
according to the associationists, constitutes the basis of 
organized experience and knowledge. They applied the 
term association to the process. 

The aim of the English school was to account for all 
the facts of conscious life, excepting the crude material 
(sensation), as the product of the operation of association* 



Thus their chief problem was to analyze the complex data 
of consciousness into elementary experiences, and to show 
how these elements are combined together by means of 
the associative factor. In connection with this analysis 
of experience they endeavored to formulate the laws of 
the associative process itself. A chronological study of 
the movement indicates how the analysis grew clearer 
with each writer, and how at each step the association 
process gained in importance. At first a mere incident in 
the sensationist theory, it at length became the sole means 
of explaining all the great variety of experience that lies 
beyond sensation. 

HOBBES represents the crude sensation psychology. He 
adopts sensation as the basis of all experience. Every 
other mental process is derived from it. Imagination and 
memory, in particular, are regarded as ' decadent 9 sen- 
sations. The order of succession among representative 
experiences follows the order of the original sensations, 
but inasmuch as a sensation may have been followed 
sometimes by one sensation, sometimes by another, 
the order of representative experience is not always 
unequivocal. The sequence, he says, may be unguided 
or inconstant, or it may be regulated by desire. Be- 
yond recognizing that habit is an important determin- 
ing factor he attempts no real analysis of association. 
Thus when he passes to the higher intellectual processes 
or experiences he has no weapon of attack against the 
nativists; their assumption of innate ideas seems quite as 
acceptable to introspection as his assumption that ab- 
stract ideas are decadent sensations. In many cases ideas 
appear to bear no resemblance to sensations, and their 
derivation from that source may well be challenged. 

Hobbes's theory may be as plausible as Descartes's or 
even more so, but it provides no means for refuting the 
theory of innate ideas. Yet in spite of its inadequacy, 
Hobbes's analysis accomplished one important result. It 


set the pattern for an empirical conception of mind, and 
following the lines which he marked out the role of 
association came naturally into greater and greater 

LOCKE sought to meet the difficulty of accounting for 
the higher intellectual processes by emphasizing reflection 
and treating it as coordinate with sensation in the forma- 
tion of experience. We have two sources of experience: 
the outer and the inner sensation and reflection. Now 
the strength of the nativist position lies in the difficulty 
of deriving certain of our higher experiences from bare 
sensation, and when Locke supplements sensation with 
reflection he suggests an answer to the nativist objection. 
His own position is not strictly empirical, for in place of 
innate ideas he merely substitutes a native faculty or 
power reflection. And this involves a concession to 
nativism which Hume held to be needless. But Locke's 
explanation of complex experiences opens the way to an 
empirical solution through the associative process. He 
is thus really responsible for the transition from sensa- 
tionism to associationism. One is hampered in the at- 
tempt to determine Locke's attitude by the vagueness of 
his conception of reflection. Yet this very vagueness is 
of the utmost importance historically, for it drew atten- 
tion to the weakness of this portion of Locke's psy- 
chology, and led to the extension of the association 
principle to account for complex and derivative ideas, 
which Locke attributed to reflection. 

It is remarkable that historians have generally over- 
estimated Locke's contribution to successive association, 
and at the same time have ignored his stress on the union 
of simultaneous experiences. For reflection, in one of 
its aspects, is the means of combining a number of simple 
experiences into a single compound experience. Simul- 
taneous association, which Locke attributes to the faculty 
of reflection, is therefore an essential factor in his scheme 


of mental analysis. On the other hand, he regards suc- 
cessive association as a hindrance to right thinking, a 
habit to be uprooted by careful exercise in the ' volun- 
tary * supervision of our trains of thought. 

BERKELEY'S analysis is very incomplete, but his theory 
of space perception furnished empirical psychology with 
a valuable asset. In demonstrating that distance or 
depth is not a sensation but an element added to the 
visual data, he indicated how psychological analysis 
might break up apparently simple experiences into more 
primitive data. If perception itself is an associative union 
of elements, why not imagination and thought? This 
implied query was taken up by later writers, who applied 
the principle of association to account for the welding 
together of elements into the higher intellectual experi- 

HUME sought to clarify Locke's analysis by abandon- 
ing reflection as a separate source of experience. He 
admits only two varieties of experience, sensation and 
ideation (to use our present terms) ; and of these, idea- 
tion is merely a faint replica of sensation. But he rec- 
ognizes the need of accounting for those ideas and images 
which differ so widely from sensation that they cannot 
be directly traced to that source. To explain their 
existence he relies on association, which he submits to a 
more careful analysis than any of his predecessors, with 
results not far from those of Aristotle. 

Hume's chief interest is to explain the succession of 
ideas, rather than to account for their complexity and 
transformations. He attributes the causal connection of 
logical thinking to habitual association, but his treatment 
of simultaneous association is limited to a few suggestions. 

2. Contributions of Hartley and Brown 

With HARTLEY the association psychology first as- 
sumes a definite form. He gathered together the hints 


which were scattered through the writings of his predeces- 
sors, and wove them into a sightly fabric. His power 
of analysis carried him to the root of the problem. As 
a physician he saw the need of relating psychology to 
physiology. And his scientific training impelled him to 
reduce the mental side to the simplest and fewest terms 

Hartley starts with a dualism of matter and mind. 
Stimulation of the sense organs results in brain vibra- 
tions which are accompanied by sensations, though not 
to be regarded as physical causes of the latter. 1 Ideas 
are attributed to fainter vibrations of the brain substance 
which occur when the vestiges of former vibrations are 
stimulated. The mental side, then, is reduced to two 
terms, sensations and ideas, which in the last analysis are 
data of the same type, characterized by a stronger and 
fainter degree of intensity respectively. They are cor- 
related with activities of the physical organism. 

But if sensations are traceable to external stimulation, 
what is the nature of the physical activity lying at the 
basis of ideas? Investigation shows that it is not ex- 
ternal that it originates within the brain itself. In the 
first instance it is a sensory brain impulse which excites 
to a fainter degree the traces of previous sensory im- 
pulses. Following this, an ideational impulse may also 
stimulate other traces and thereby give rise to other 
ideational impulses. Thus the physical basis of an idea 
is either a sensory brain state or an ideational brain 

Regarded from the mental side, this passage from sen- 
sation to idea or from one idea to another is the process 
of association. A sensation or an idea (or, Hartley adds, 

1 Since he expressly rejects any causal connection, this is dis- 
tinctly a theory of psychophysical parallelism. (It would be inter- 
esting, by the way, to know how far Hartley's theory of brain 
vibrations is responsible for the modern pseudo-scientific talk of 
sympathetic mental vibrations 1} 


a muscular movement) is able to induce another idea or 
another muscular movement, provided the latter term of 
the sequence has in the past occurred frequently in con- 
junction with the former term. The meaning of the law 
is understood when we examine the physiological side of 
the process. If several sensory brain processes have oc- 
curred many times in conjunction, then the recurrence of 
one induces a fainter repetition of the others, and these 
faint stimulations may in turn lead to faint repetitions 
of other sensory processes which have formerly occurred 
in conjunction with them. Thus Hartley's law of associa- 
tion is really the statement in psychological terms of a 
fundamental physiological process. 

There is no very marked distinction in Hartley's theory 
between successive and simultaneous association. Expe- 
riences which have occurred simultaneously as sensations 
may be associated successively as ideas. And we may 
credit him with holding the converse also namely, that 
when sensations have occurred frequently in immediate 
succession, their ideal counterparts may be simultaneously 
associated in the form of a compound idea. 1 Each of 
the two modes yields an important datum. Succession 
explains the rise of ideas (or images, as we should call 
them); and simultaneous association explains their com- 
plexity and deviation from the original sensations. 

It is fully in keeping with Hartley's physiological trend 
that he does not regard resemblance as a factor in asso- 
ciation. The physiological basis of the -idea is the same 
brain process as that which formerly accompanied the 
sensation, only fainter. Hence, a stimulus induces by 
association not similar processes, but a renewal of either 
the same processes or contiguous ones. Contiguity is the 
sole criterion of what alternatives are open to association, 
while frequency or habit measures the strength of the 

1 He does not explicitly state whether the original association of 
sensations is serial or simultaneous. 


associative tendency in given instances and determines 
the result as between these alternatives. 

We should notice that Hartley indicates two fruitful 
directions in which the analysis of experience may be 
carried out by the use of association, though he does not 
himself proceed very far with either. These are (i) the 
motor aspect of consciousness, including volition. He 
indicates the relation of voluntary muscular movements 
to sensation and ideas in his general formulation of the 
associative law. (2) The derivation of thought and 
reasoning from imagery proper. The transition from 
imagery to abstract thought is approached from several 
sides: in his account of the origin of complex ideas, in 
his study of verbal association, and in his analysis of 
belief. The weakness of some parts of his analysis and 
its incompleteness in dealing with the more complex ex- 
periences was in itself a stimulus to further study. In 
particular, the vagueness of his explanation of belief 
incited his successors to a minute analysis of its nature. 

There seems abundant reason for according Hartley the 
title of founder of the association school, since he was 
the first to adopt the associative principle as the funda- 
mental operation of psychology. The consistency and 
deep-reaching character of his investigation certainly 
entitles him to be regarded as the typical representative 
of the earlier period of associationism, when the prin- 
ciple itself was new and required elaboration before it 
could be effectively applied to the more intricate phe- 
nomena of mental life. 

The effect of Hartley's constructive work appeared first 
in other sciences. The principle of association was seized 
upon by students of ethics, esthetics, logic, jurisprudence, 
and biology, and applied to their several spheres. Asso- 
ciationism appeared to be c in the air ' during this period, 
much as evolutionism was in the air a century later. It 
would be difficult to determine how far Hartley was re- 


sponsible for this radiation of the movement and how far 
it is due to the combined influence of the whole body of 
empirical thinkers from Hobbes onward. 1 The contem- 
poraries and successors of Hartley must have derived 
their well-rounded notion of association mainly from him, 
since most of them assume it without independent 
analysis, and their broad treatment is not to be found 
in the earlier authorities. Yet it would not be fair to 
ignore two other tendencies of the time, for which Hobbes 
and Hume are responsible respectively. 

The social contract theory, which held sway in the 
latter part of the eighteenth century, and was undoubt- 
edly suggested by Hobbes's conception of the state, led 
to views regarding society which were quite favorable to 
the association psychology. The two theories are indeed 
quite independent and belong to entirely different spheres 
of thought. But their world-view is similar. Each is a 
mechanistic notion, opposed on the one hand to super- 
naturalism and belief in irreducible complexes, on the 
other hand to racial evolution. According to the social 
contract view, society is not an unanalyzable, divinely 
ordained composition; neither is it a growth by means 

1 Writers of the i8th century were not careful to cite their 
authorities. It is not difficult to discover the sources which influ- 
enced them when the suggestions led to polemic; they are frank 
enough in naming their antagonists. But they do not usually deem 
it necessary to mention the sources whence their own standpoint 
was derived. In the present instance the search would lead us too 
far into problems of textual analysis. The writer believes, how- 
ever, that present-day psychologists give^ too little weight to Hart- 
ley's influence on his contemporaries, just as they attribute too 
little importance to his original contributions to association. 

Psychologists have had to rely largely on histories written by 
philosophers for their estimates of the association movement. 
The importance of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume bulks large in 
philosophy, while Hartley is a 'mere psychologist/ The present 
volume seeks to correct the misplacement of emphasis in this par- 
ticular instance. It is desirable that all historical questions which 
concern psychology be re-examined from a psychological standpoint 
and that a history of psychology be written which shall counteract 
the errors into which our histories of philosophy have undoubtedly 
fallen in tracing the development of these problems. 


of internal forces. It is an artificial union of human 
elements. And according to the earlier association theory 
human experience also is not an unanalyzable super- 
natural product nor a real development and transforma- 
tion. The association of experiences is rather a me- 
chanical reconstruction of elements into somewhat more 
intricate and complicated forms. Thus the two theories 
harmonized with each other and together constituted a 
tendency of thought during this period. 

Again, the Kantian philosophy, which is traceable to 
a reaction from the conclusions of Hume's philosophy, 
drew attention to various aspects of Hume's analysis 
and brought association into prominence. Kant's disci- 
ples in Britain were strenuously endeavoring to advance 
beyond Hume's empirical view of mental phenomena. 
But the very strife itself served to familiarize the gen- 
eral reader with the notion which was popularly called 
the * association of ideas.' 

From philosophy and jurisprudence, then, as well as 
psychology, came influences which turned British think- 
ers in the direction of associationism. The work of such 
writers as Tucker, Priestley, Alison, and Erasmus 
Darwin in applying the association doctrine to special 
sciences has been noticed in an earlier chapter. 

THOMAS BROWN'S position is peculiar, since he rejects 
the connection between psychology and physiology, which 
lies at the basis of Hartley's system. Moreover, his 
application of the association doctrine to intuitional 
psychology is unusual. The Scottish school in general 
seek to distinguish each separate mental faculty care- 
fully from every other, while the associationists endeavor 
to unite all mental phenomena into one class. Brown 
is an introspectionist, but he nevertheless endeavors to 
bring the so-called mental faculties together, and this by 
means of the principle of association. He rejects the 
notion that association accomplishes the union of mental 


terms; for introspectively we find no connecting link 
nothing but the fact of succession; and his standpoint 
forbids him to search for a connection outside of con- 
sciousness. For this reason he abandons the term asso- 
ciation and substitutes Hobbes's term suggestion. But 
in general his view of the associative process conforms to 
Hartley's. The associated or suggested image is for 
Brown not a revival of the old sensation; it is a new 
experience. We can not explain It; we can only describe 
its appearance in consciousness by asserting that it is 
1 suggested. 5 But suggestion itself is based on the con- 
tiguity or contrast of similar experiences in the past. 

Brown's attempted union of associationism with intui- 
tionism was historically unsuccessful. It aroused the 
suspicion of both schools. This and his tedious prolixity 
lessened the influence which his system deserved on ac- 
count of its exhaustive investigation of mental processes. 
He was the first to distinguish clearly between the pri- 
mary and secondary laws of association between the dif- 
ferent sorts of union and the factors which determine 
its quantitative variation. In particular, his analysis of 
the secondary laws is remarkably complete, and his for- 
mulation of them is thorough, not to say redundant. He 
emphasized the ' mental chemistry 5 aspect of simul- 
taneous association and his attitude seems to have influ- 
enced John Stuart Mill in adopting that view. 

3. The Two Mitts and Bain 

JAMES MILL viewed the human mind as a species of 
machine. It is set going by outside forces (sensory 
stimuli), and proceeds to operate as a physical mechan- 
ism. The machinery of the mind is the associative 
process, and the elder Mill conceives of this as acting 
like a physical force, mechanically. He makes no 
attempt to correlate the mental processes with the brain 


processes as Hartley did, though his appreciation of the 
function of nerves and brain is clearly indicated and his 
attitude toward physiology is far more sympathetic than 
Brown's. His analysis of consciousness is introspective 
and in this he follows Brown. But his conception of asso- 
ciation is totally different from the latter's. Brown 
regards association as a means of transforming simple 
experience into complexes, which differ in kind from their 
components. James Mill rejects the notion of transfor- 
mation. He holds that the sole function of association is 
to bind experiences together, and that the complex states 
contain all the original elements intact. In successive 
association the passage from thought to thought is so 
rapid that often certain intermediate steps escape atten- 
tion; in simultaneous association certain elements may 
be so obscure as to remain unnoticed, but the interme- 
diate terms and the obscure elements are there neverthe- 
less, and it only requires analytic examination to bring 
them to light. 

An instance of such analysis is found in James Mill's 
examination of the notion of belief, which he finds asso- 
ciated with a host of different mental factors according to 
circumstance, but which is itself nothing more than an 
indissoluble association between the factors. Belief, or 
indissoluble association, is in fact a cardinal point in 
James Mill's system. In his view association does not 
reconstruct or modify the material, but it cements the 
separate elements together with a strong force, and by 
repetition this union at length becomes indissoluble. The 
complex fact appears to be simple; only psychological 
analysis proves that it is made up of a weft of elementary 
strands or a succession of separate steps. 

This view of association enabled James Mill to analyze 
the higher mental processes, such as conception and rea- 
soning, with better success than his predecessors. A con- 
cept is a duster of ideas, reasoning is the association of 


the terms of propositions. Each of these mental phe- 
nomena seems to be a single thing, but by psychological 
analysis it is shown to be really a composition. Taken in 
its entirety, Mill's analysis was far more thorough than 
any previous attempt, and his psychology is the first com- 
plete system worked out on an associational basis. Other 
associationists, however, raised strenuous objections to 
his instrument of research, and no one protested more 
vigorously than his own son. 

JOHN STUART MILL was essentially a logician, and saw 
the logical fallacy of using introspective analysis to over- 
throw the validity of introspection. If introspection de- 
clares a certain experience to be simple, how can another 
introspection prove this introspection to be false? The 
way out of the difficulty appears plain enough to the 
younger Mill. It involves merely abandoning the me- 
chanical view of association for the chemical analogy. 
According to him, association produces experiences which 
are really unitary, in the sense that they are not separable 
into parts by introspection. Introspection does not break 
the experience up into elements, as the elder Mill sup- 
posed, but it does reveal the elements which the act of 
association has brought together to form this new 
product. Association does more than unite it trans- 

This revised view of the nature of association involved 
a restatement of nearly all of James Mill's analysis. But 
the restatement was not so difficult as might be imagined. 
In most cases the results could be accepted as they stood 
with merely the qualification that what James Mill con- 
sidered ingredients in a complex experience are really its 
antecedents that the resulting experience is not so much 
a complex state as a derivative state, which is introspec- 
tively as simple as it appears. Thus the perception of an 
orange or the concept horse are really simple, though 
derived from primitive elements. This line of argument 


enabled the younger Mill to transform his father's system 
completely without duplicating the analysis. He accom- 
plished the astonishing feat of giving to the world a psy- 
chology resting on a basis of his own construction, while 
using practically the entire superstructure which his 
father had built up on an altogether different foundation. 

This procedure, while it resulted in a powerful system 
of psychology, proved a source of historic weakness. 
Later writers naturally regarded James Mill's original 
work as the principal element in the joint product. They 
have underestimated the value of J. S. Mill's reconstruc- 
tion. James Mill's c mechanical ' interpretation of asso- 
ciation came to represent associationism to the average 
student's mind, and the ' chemical ' interpretation was 
generally considered a foreign branch grafted upon it; it 
was treated as something contrary to the genius of pure 
associationism. In the present volume the aim has been 
to show how mistaken is this attitude toward the theory 
on historical grounds as well as logically. The chemical 
view or something akin to it was held by many associa- 
tionists before and after J. S. Mill, and these included 
some of the most vigorous analysts. The chemical inter- 
pretation belongs quite as much to the genius of associa- 
tionism as James Mill's mechanical interpretation. 

John Stuart Mill's greatest difficulty arose in account- 
ing for belief. He inclined to the opinion that it contains 
some distinctive element which renders it primordially 
different from both sensation and ideation. In this of 
course he abandons the pure associational standpoint 
rather unnecessarily; for it was open to him to study the 
genesis of the element peculiar to belief and trace it so 
far as possible to familiar sources, as he attempted to do 
in the case of complex ideas. But the younger Mill's 
special interest was in logic rather than psychology. He 
was concerned only in correcting the logical fallacies in 
his father's psychological method and in outlining a psy- 


chology which was fitted to serve as a basis for his own 
scheme of logic. 

BAIN'S psychology is notable for its abandonment of 
introspection. He emphasizes the physiological con- 
comitants of mental processes as Hartley had done; and 
in this he presents a sharp contrast to the Mills and 
Brown. But his physiology is far in advance of Hartley's, 
for the science had made vast progress during the inter- 
vening century. Brain activity was no longer conceived 
of as mechanical vibration, and the notion of diffusion 
of nervous impulses had arisen to account for the emo- 
tions. When physiology is emphasized it almost in- 
evitably results in giving prominence to the motor side 
of the mental life. Thus Bain starts with sensibility and 
contractility of muscle as his two primary data, and a 
leading factor of his psychology is his study of impulsive 
and instinctive activity, the sense of effort, and other 
internal forms of motor phenomena. Moreover, Bain 
brings out a new connection between the mental and 
motor sides. Every sensation, he says, is accompanied 
by a tendency to movement, which grows in strength with 
the increased intensity of feeling. The motor tendencies 
of sensation being a legitimate object of psychological 
study, Bain's attitude justifies the investigation of physio- 
logical processes by association psychologists. In Hartley 
the reference to brain activity is rather an analogy 
brought in from another science. With Bain it admits 
of translation into psychological terms, and thus inter- 
preted it forms an integral part of psychology. 

The associative process is a fundamental element in 
Bain's system. He restates its laws and uses it as an 
instrument of research in every part of his analysis, espe- 
cially in treating the intellectual processes; for associa- 
tion means revival of past mental states, and this revival 
always has an implied reference (if not an explicit one) 
to the restimulation of some trace of former brain ac- 


tivity. The coordination of motor impulses into definite, 
specific movements results from the association of ideas 
with these motor elements and from the coordinated 
grouping of such ideas. And the crowning motor phe- 
nomenon, volition, is only the final step in this associative 
and coordinating process. In his later works Bain adopts 
Spencer's principle of relativity, but not his genetic sys- 
tem of mental organization. Had the advent of the 
evolution theory been delayed, it would seem as though 
Bain must have been the model for empirical analysis 
during the next generation. But events moved quickly, 
and almost before the revised edition of Bain's psychology 
was written it had passed into history. Bain's treat- 
ment of the motor side, indeed, had a marked influence 
on later writers. But his association theory was out of 
touch with the thought of the age. Evolutionists felt 
the need of a thorough re-examination of association in 
connection with tie new theory, in which growth meant 
real transformation; while the opponents of evolution 
had no sympathy whatever with the association psy- 
chology. Bain therefore appears as the last of the 
* pure 3 associationists. Those who follow him belong to 
another regiment, and march under another banner. 

4. Spencer and Lewes 

The change in standpoint which the evolution concept 
introduced was further-reaching than one is apt to 
realize. It gave a totally different meaning to the world's 
history and thoroughly transformed the whole group of 
sciences which deal with life and human activity. We 
conceive today of a gradual perfectioning of organic 
forms from the dawn of life onward. We trace the prog- 
ress of humanity from a state of ignorance and bestiality 
upward, instead of starting with an original condition of 
mental and moral perfection as pre-evolution thinkers 


interpreted the beginnings of history. The legal, ethical, 
social, and religious institutions of mankind acquire a 
new meaning when we view them as a growth and as real 
progress. Even the study of language is transformed; 
it is no longer a science of mechanical inflections. Com- 
parative philology shows how sounds have been trans- 
formed and how inflections have grown up; language is 
an evolution from crude beginnings by a quasi-vital 

With this concept of c real growth ' in the air, it was 
difficult to regard the human mind from the old stand- 
point. The mind could no longer be conceived of as a 
tabula rasa at the birth of each individual, inasmuch as 
each individual inherits the entire race-history of his 
biological organism. The sense organs, nerves, and brain 
exhibit progress from species to species, and the mental 
life exhibits a distinct gradation of levels among the dif- 
ferent species. Thus the vague phrase * mental endow- 
ments ' came to have a definite and scientific meaning. 
The human individual at birth, if he has inherited no 
actual experiences, has at least inherited certain organic 
capacities which make his experience, from the outset, 
different from those of the lower animals. Pre-evolu- 
tionary associationism was based on a mechanistic con- 
ception of experience; association was viewed as a me- 
chanical or chemical process. It now became necessary 
to interpret association after the pattern of organic 

It has been urged by certain writers with some show of 
reason that the term associationism cannot properly be 
applied to the transformed doctrine; and one must grant 
that the term no longer holds without qualification. But 
the historian finds two reasons for retaining the old desig- 
nation: First, the new school is a direct outgrowth of 
the older associationism its historical successor. The 
two schools dovetail together; they belong historically to 


the same movement and therefore deserve to be grouped 
together under the same name. Second, in the newer 
psychology the notion of association, though somewhat 
altered, still remains a dominant factor in the explanation 
of mental processes. 

In SPENCER'S evolutionary psychology the nervous 
functions play a more prominent role than even Bain 
accorded them. Spencer does not identify experience 
with neural activity as some of his critics claim. 1 But 
he makes these physiological processes the pattern for 
the correlated psychological processes. He first investi- 
gates the processes of nerve physiology, and then trans- 
lates them directly into psychological processes. The 
physical and mental being two sides of the same unknown 
reality, the laws of the former hold for the latter by 
merely substituting a different set of terms. 

There are two prominent facts in the nervous life 
which interest psychologists: nerve impulse and nervous 
revivability. On the mental side the corresponding facts 
are feeling and association. Spencer formulates the con- 
ditions of nervous revival arid transforms these conditions 
into laws of mental association. He differs with other 
associationists, however, in distinguishing between the act 
of inducing an associative mental state, which is for him 
the phenomenon of mental association, and the relation 
between the inducing and induced state, which he terms 
relation of feeling. The former experience is based on 
the neural phenomenon of revival or coherence; the latter 
is attributed to the shock which accompanies the passage 
from the old state to the new. His predecessors do not 
regard the * relation ' as a separate element of conscious- 
ness, nor as a distinct physiological phenomenon. For 
them the revival or production of the second experience 

1 He applies the term * nervous shock * to the primitive form of 
experience, but in other respects he distinguishes the two sides very 
carefully. The word 'shock' itself is scarcely impeachable from 
the introspective standpoint 


carries with it the relation or union of elements and is 
part of the act of association; they recognize but one 
factor in the experience. 

Spencer's theory on this point has led to a study, by 
William James and other writers, of the feelings of rela- 
tion which accompany these relations of feeling. What 
interests us here, however, is that for Spencer the chief 
problem of association is the nature of the relations be- 
tween feelings, as indicated by the physiological process 
involved. Spencer finds that every relation associates 
itself with similar relations experienced in the past, just 
as feelings associate themselves with similar past feelings. 
Hence, for Spencer the primary fact or law of association 
is similarity. Contiguity is subordinate; it is merely a 
repetition of the succession or coexistence which held 
among the original sensations. He finds, moreover, that 
consciousness as it grows complex tends more and more 
to take on the form of succession, while coexistence be- 
longs rather to the physical side. 1 The degree or strength 
of associability among experiences depends on their vivid- 
ness, on the amount of repetition, and on a third prin- 
ciple which he calls the law of decreasing gain. 

Thus far Spencer conforms to the older associationism 
in spirit, in spite of his unusual interpretation of associa- 
tion. But his evolutionism appears when he transfers 
the nervous integration which underlies experience from 
the individual organism to the sphere of race history. 
The more fundamental nervous coherences are not formed 
in the lifetime of any individual; they are too deep- 
rooted for that. Biology indicates that, like all struc- 
tures of the body, they have been gradually built up 
through many successive generations. Thus a difficulty 
of the older associationism was met. Many thinkers had 
questioned whether the well-nigh indissoluble associations 

1 Physical events are both simultaneous and successive according 
to Spencer. 


which empirical psychologists find in experience could be 
built up through the comparatively few repetitions of 
similar experiences that occur during an individual's 
infancy. Doubt was thus cast upon the empirical solu- 
tion. But the evolutionists argued that nervous structure 
is inherited, and that the anatomical connections which 
underlie association are built up in large measure prior 
to actual experience. Hence, they held that the condi- 
tions underlying association are inherited by the indi- 
vidual, though experience itself is not innate. The em- 
pirical position was confirmed by comparative neurology, 
which demonstrated that the underlying nerve structure 
involved in association has been gradually built up in 
the animal series. 

Spencer is responsible for bringing associationism into 
accord with the Darwinian biology. But Spencer was not 
a trained psychologist. In reading him one feels his lack 
of sympathy with the psychological standpoint. In his 
writings mental phenomena appear to be merely biological 
processes clothed with a borrowed garment for modesty's 
sake. Psychology is treated as a child under tutelage, 
whose parent-science must always be consulted in matters 
of importance. 

It is to LEWES, then, that we must turn for a sym- 
pathetic exposition of the revised theory. He believes 
mental phenomena to be worthy of study for their own 
sake; and his psychology, though based and rooted in 
physiology, is a mature science capable of holding prop- 
erty in its own right. Lewes reasserts the claim of intro- 
spection, which Spencer had abandoned almost altogether, 
as an instrument of research* He is also unique among 
associationists in emphasizing the social data of psy- 
chology, which he believes to be chiefly responsible for 
the tremendous growth of mind in man beyond other 

Lewes denotes the primitive element of experience by 


the term neural tremor, and regards sensation as a group- 
ing together of these elements, while the higher types of 
experience are due in turn to groupings of sensations. 
This process of grouping, which Lewes also terms the 
logical process, is the association principle of earlier 
writers. But, like Spencer, he restricts the term associa- 
tion to one aspect of the grouping process: with him 
association is a purely adventitious grouping one which 
has no basis in the connate mechanism. This would seem 
to exclude many important types of connection, such as 
the primitive spatial grouping of experiences. It harks 
back to Locke's view that association is a fortuitous or 
customary conjunction. The groupings which have a con- 
nate basis are more essential in Lewes's psychology than 
those which are brought about during the individual's life- 
time. For the sake of historic unity, however, we may 
include all aspects of his so-called c logical process * under 
the traditional term association. 

Lewes considers associations of sequence more impor- 
tant than those of coexistence, but gives the latter greater 
weight than Spencer had attributed to them. Simul- 
taneous associations tend to become fixed, and the result- 
ing complex group operates like a single unit. Thus the 
perception of objects as unitary experiences arises when 
several different sense-data combine, Lewes does not 
adopt the chemical analogy in describing these unions, 
like John Stuart Mill. But he lays emphasis on the 
transforming character of fusion, which gives a qualita- 
tive tinge to experiences. 

Serial grouping or association also is responsible, ac- 
cording to LeweSy for some of the varieties observed in 
experience. It leads in the first place to the rise of im- 
agery. When a large number of sensations are stimu- 
lated together, they cannot all be reinstated with their 
prior associations to the fullest extent; as a result, some 
are suppressed and only occur incipiently. Such incipient 


reinstatements are representations or images. But a fur- 
ther step occurs: these images may be replaced by expe- 
riences of another sort, which bear no trace of the original 
sensations. Such experiences Lewes terms ideas; they 
include words and other associative factors which serve as 
signs for the image, though they do not resemble it. 

Not merely the sensory and image-producing mechan- 
ism, but even the physical basis of ideas is too funda- 
mental to have been wholly developed within the indi- 
vidual's lifetime* All these mechanisms are connate 
that is, they are due to a structure which has evolved 
phylogenetically. Ideas, according to Lewes, are a social 
product, and their physical basis could only be evolved 
by generations of social life- The association of ideas is 
much readier and easier than the association of images, 
inasmuch as ideas are more general in other words, less 
concrete and less specialized than images. Association 
of ideas (in this technical sense) constitutes the intel- 
lectual side of experience, and hence the associational 
analysis accounts for intellectual phenomena as readily as 
for sensation and imagery. 

Substitute the historic term * association * for Lewes's 
grouping or ' logical process/ and his psychology proves to 
be thoroughly associational; it carries out the associa- 
tional analysis more completely than any of the preceding 

Lewes suggests a plausible relation between sensation 
and affection, in the distinction which he carefully makes 
between external and systemic senses. He adheres to 
Spencer's treatment of instinct and impulse, which points 
to a psychophysical correlation between the motor side 
of the organism and experience; this results in a psycho- 
logical concept of conduct, embodying the highest aspect 
under which mental phenomena may be viewed. It cor- 
responds closely to the more recently adopted term 


It remained only to apply Lewes's principles in a sys- 
tematic manner, in order to construct a complete associa- 
tional psychology. But this was never accomplished. 
Later British writers, such as Sully, Ward, and Stout, 
based their analysis on a modified intuitionism, while the 
experimental laboratory movement initiated by Fechner 
and Wundt in Germany brought to light a new method 
of research, and treated association as a minor factor to 
be investigated and analyzed psychophysically. Thus the 
work of the association school remained incomplete when 
the movement came to an end. The systematic study of 
the human mind along the lines indicated by Spencer 
and Lewes, which should have crowned their work, was 
never undertaken. As a result the world today appraises 
the association psychology only through the fragmentary 
attempts at analysis belonging partly to a bygone unscien- 
tific age, partly to the rudimentary stage of the evolu- 
tion era. 

5. Estimate of English Assoclationism 

The work of the English school as a whole extended 
along three different lines: (i) The formulation of cer- 
tain laws according to which mental association proceeds. 
(2) The analysis of every sort of mental phenomena 
with a view to reducing them all, even the most complex, 
to the workings of the associative process. (3) The ap- 
plication of these results to the sciences of humanity, in 
an attempt to build up systems of ethics, logic, episte- 
mology, jurisprudence, sociology, esthetics, and education 
in accordance with empirical principles. 

(i) The first of these problems was recognized as im- 
portant by many writers besides the associationists. 
Formulations of the laws of association were attempted 
by various psychologists not at all identified with the 
English school. 1 On the other hand we find considerable 

1 Sec Chapter IX, 


diversity of opinion within the school itself regarding 
these laws. As one would expect, the associationists 
made a more careful and thorough study of the as- 
sociative principles than other schools. Nevertheless 
their discovery and formulation is not an achieve- 
ment for which the association school can claim en- 
tire credit. 

(2) The attitude toward the second problem is more 
characteristic of the school. Where others accepted cer- 
tain mental powers as innate, or viewed certain experi- 
ences as simple data, the associationists sought to reduce 
mental function and structure to the lowest possible 
terms; they analyzed complex experience into simpler ele- 
mentary data, joined together into real or apparent unity 
by the associative processes. 1 In some cases the pecu- 
liarities of a given writer's view may be due to his 
philosophical standpoint. In other cases they appear as 
legitimate psychological alternatives. 

With the progress of anatomy and physiology and the 
formulation of the broader biological laws, came the re- 
construction of certain psychological interpretations along 
the line of better organic analogies. In all this the asso- 
ciationists played a leading part. The chief contribution 
of the school to the historical development of psychology 
consists in their analysis of complex and higher mental 
states into simpler and more fundamental. Their work 
in this field, however incomplete, is of lasting value. 

(3) To study their third problem, the application of 
associative principles to other sciences, would carry us 
too far beyond the scope of this history. It should be 
emphasized, however, that the extension of associational 
principles to the various fields of mental and social science 
is an inevitable consequence of adopting the association 
standpoint In fact, it was the search for empirical data 
adequate to account for the humanistic sciences that 
1 See Chapter X. 


really led most of these thinkers to adopt the association 
psychology. In all these sciences the association of ideas 
appeared to be the most adequate principle available for 
explaining the working of human mind. It would be 
scarcely correct to attribute utilitarianism and other 
phases of the empirical movement entirely to the influ- 
ence of the association psychology; rather, the empirical 
trend of thought which originated with Locke manifested 
itself both in the association psychology and in allied, 
congruous movements in other sciences. 

The motive which underlay the association movement 
was an endeavor to explain mental phenomena on an 
empirical basis. The system arose out of the attempt 
to combat the notion that certain ideas are innate im- 
planted in the mind at birth. But in the course of time 
the standpoint of both nativists and empiricists shifted. 
The nativists abandoned their theory of ready-made 
ideas, and claimed merely that the forms of experience 
are due to the intellect. The empiricists on the other 
hand were forced to admit that the primitive data of 
experience undergo transformation as they unite into com- 
plex forms. 

A typical branch of nativists follow Kant in holding 
that the data of sensation are arranged by the mind itself 
in certain forms of time and space; these forms are native 
to the mind, but do not constitute experience they do 
not of themselves appear in consciousness save in connec- 
tion with the data furnished from without. The later 
associationists, on the other hand, hold that the temporal 
and spatial forms are themselves built up in connection 
with experience; they insist that the only ' native * data 
are the physiological dispositions of the brain which 
modify sensory impressions and transform them into a 
countless variety of central stimulations; the diversity of 
experience depends on the differentiation of these physio- 


logical processes and not on any power native to the 

The adoption of the evolution theory had little direct 
effect on either of these positions. It only served to make 
the process of mental development more comprehensible, 
inasmuch as the underlying basis of association, whether 
mental form or physiological disposition, was now seen to 
have evolved through generations of individual lives, in- 
stead of being a character of the individual organism. 

The nativist position rests on the assumption that mind 
is a substance or entity. The associationists regard each 
individual mind as consisting of many unit experiences, 
which are so firmly bound together in simultaneous groups 
and in one long train, that they constitute a unitary 
consciousness. By scientific examination (so-called ' in- 
trospective analysis') the elementary units may be 
attended to separately and their derivation and synthesis 
may be accounted for, the grounds of their rise, combina- 
tion, and diversification being stated in terms of the 
physiological processes which accompany them. 1 Be- 
cause it sought to split consciousness up into elementary 
states and laid special emphasis on the physiological basis, 
the association psychology has sometimes been termed a 
u psychology without a mind." It should be remem- 
bered, however, that the chief exponents of associationism 
recognized fully the unitary character of consciousness; 
the only basis for such criticism is that they regard the 
c self ' as a product of experience and not as the substan- 
tial and underlying basis of consciousness. 

To sum up: (i) A cardinal point in the English move- 
ment is its hearty recognition of the psysiological basis 
of experience and its constant reference to the nervous 
functions in explaining the development of experience. 

1 Brown alone refused to consider these physiological laws a 
proper topic for psychology and merely stated the observed prin- 
ciples of psychological association. 


(2) Mental association is accepted as the instrument 
whereby experience is fashioned into complex forms and 
serial trains; this associative process is viewed as depend- 
ing on certain characteristics of brain activities. (3) Fur- 
ther, associationists generally recognize that a transfor- 
mation occurs as a result of the associative union of 
experiences that the product of such union is often 
qualitatively different from its elements. Some writers 
consider this a departure from the pure associational 
standpoint; but we have found that the theory in some 
form was accepted by practically all the English associa- 
tionists except James Mill. It is in fact no more a 
departure from the genius of the associational analysis 
than recognition of qualitative diversity among the 
original sensations themselves. 1 These three postulates, 
together with the primitive datum of sensibility, consti- 
tute the working material of the association school. 

We have observed how persistently these principles 
were used by the English writers in their attempt to 
explain all the phenomena of mental life. That the 
analytic examination was not carried out more sys- 
tematically and completely was due to the fact that the 
associationists were one and all busily engaged in 
strengthening their foundations. Even Spencer and Lewes 
were forced to reconstruct the bases of their system in 
order to bear the added weight of the new evolution 

This task completed, it remained the duty of others to 
systematize the science along the lines laid down. But 
meanwhile the experimental laboratory method, starting 

1 It is interesting to note certain recent attempts (e.g. that of 
Professor E. B. Holt in his contribution to the 'New Realism') to 
derive the qualitative differences in sensation and other experience 
from homogeneous primitive units. The present writer believes 
that the 'mental chemistry' analogy furnishes a more plausible 
ground of explanation. Qualitative modification (or * transforma- 
tion*) may be regarded as a primitive * mental function,* of the 
same order as sensibility, revival, and association. 


in Germany, was beginning to supersede the method of 
pure self-observation. Psychophysics, with its emphasis 
on quantitative results, came more and more into the 

The quantitative measurement of mental phenomena 
gives greater precision than mere subjective analysis. 
But the two modes of investigation in reality supplement 
each other. Introspective analysis of the traditional as- 
sociational type, united with quantitative measurements 
obtained by the newer experimental methods, have yielded 
notable results, as will be shown in a later chapter. 1 

1 Chapter VIII. 


J. French Associationism; Condillac 

THE principle of mental association was duly recog- 
nized by many writers of the Scottish and German move- 
ments. But in no case was it elevated by them to a 
commanding position in psychology. In France, however, 
we find a group of thinkers who developed a system along 
lines somewhat similar to the English school, in which 
the fundamental factors were sensation and association. 
While these French thinkers were influenced in some 
degree by the English movement (notably by Locke) 
their system was really worked out independently and 
presents individual characteristics of its own. 

ployed the phrase "Funion et la liaison des images" 
some years before the publication of Locke's c Essay.* 
The expression occurs in his work c Systeme de Tame * * 
which appeared in 1664; Locke's chapter on Association 
of Ideas was inserted only in the 1700 edition of his 
Essay. There is no reason to suppose, however, that 
Locke had seen Cureau de La Chambre's work or that 
he was even indirectly influenced by it. 

NICHOLAS MALEBRANCHE (1638-1715), a follower of 
Descartes, went a step further than Cureau de La 
Chambre. In his ' Recherche de la verite * (1674), after 
attempting to explain the causes of association between 
ideas and the brain traces, he examines the association 

*Bk. IV, ch. 2, art 91. The reference is from Hamilton; the 
writer has been unable to consult the original. 



between several of these traces. The psychophysical 
connection is based upon three laws: (i) The nature or 
will of the Creator; (2) Simultaneous occurrence of the 
two phenomena; (3) The will of man. 1 

The association between different brain traces rests 
upon the second of these grounds simultaneity. 2 Traces 
which were imprinted on the brain at the same time be- 
come associated. Some traces are associated naturally; 
others in a purely arbitrary way. 3 Moreover, the traces 
may or may not be associated with emotions. Those 
ideas which are necessary to the preservation of life are 
always associated with emotion, as for example the idea 
of a precipice and the danger of falling into it, are asso- 
ciated with the idea of death and with an emotion dis- 
posing us to flee. 4 It appears, then, that Malebranche 
regards simultaneity as the primary law of association. 

At this period and till about 1750 the Cartesian 
philosophy held full sway in France. The suggestion of 
Cureau de La Chambre and Malebranche was not elabo- 
rated. These writers are the sole representatives of the 
precursory stage of French associationism. 

The first systematic attempt to develop an associational 
psychology was made by Condillac in 1746. Paralleling 
the English movement we may treat the work of Con- 
dillac and his contemporaries as the second stage of the 
French movement. It corresponds chronologically and 
in phase of development to the second English period, 
represented by Hartley and Brown. 

voluminous writer whose thought was largely influenced 
by Locke. He admits having no knowledge of English, 
and apart from an occasional second-hand reference to 
Berkeley (whose name he misspells) he appears to have 

* ' Rech./ 8th ed, Livre II, Pt. I. ch. 5, pp. 279-81. 

2 P. 291. 

3 This passage may have influenced Locke, 


had no knowledge of the English development succeeding 
Locke. He owes nothing to Hume, though the Treatise * 
was published before Condillac's first work. 1 

Hartley's Latin ' Conjecturae ' came out fit is believed) 
in 1731 and the c Observations ' appeared in 1749, the 
former 15 years before Condillac's first psychological 
work, and the latter 6 years before his chief production. 
But Condillac was obviously as unfamiliar with Hartley's 
system as with Hume's. His own psychology was built 
up independently and in many features is quite distinct 
from the English interpretation of association. 

Condillac's system of psychology is developed in two 
works, * Essai sur Porigine des connoissances humaines ' 
(1746) and 'Traite des sensations' (1754)- The 
* Essai ' seeks to demonstrate that all our knowledge is 
due to the association of material derived from the senses. 
The * Traite ' examines the growth of knowledge as more 
and more varieties of sense material are presented. 

The plan as well as the title of the c Essai * is obviously 
suggested by Locke's work. Condillac examines in turn 
the various kinds of ideas, and endeavors to explain them 
upon an empirical basis. 

The f Traite ' is more original in design, and may be 
regarded as Condillac's chief contribution to psychology. 
It is a curious blending of scientific analysis and imagina- 
tion. In order to show that the growth of experience is 
determined solely by sensation and association, Condillac 
imagines a statue, organized internally like a human being 
and endowed with a soul, but lacking at the start any idea 
whatsoever. He assumes that the statue's senses are 
opened up one by one and notes the effect of each suc- 
cessive addition in enlarging its field of knowledge. 1 
However artificial the design of the book may seem, it at 

*See Dewaule: 'Condillac et la psychologic anglaise contem- 
poralne,' p. 5- 
** Traite; pp. 49-50. 


least serves to emphasize Condillac's chief thesis that no 
a priori factor is concerned in the growth of mental 
powers and experiences. 

Two other works of Condillac should be noted, ' L'art 
de penser' (1780), and his posthumous 'Logique' 
(1780). These follow the same line of thought as the 
Essai. ? The 'Penser 7 is in fact little more than a 
recapitulation of the 'Essai/ with modifications due to 
some change in standpoint. The ' Logique ' may be re- 
garded as a summary of his psychology. 

Condillac's psychology is sensationistic and associa- 
tionlstic. He attributes the source of all experience to 
the senses. Complex experiences are due to the combina- 
tion of sensory data by association. Our task is to dis- 
cover "what is the origin of our cognitions [nos con- 
noissances], what are their data, by what principle they 
are put into effect, what instruments we employ, and in 
what way we should make use of them. I have found, 
it seems to me, the solution of all these problems in the 
association [liaison] of ideas, either with signs or with 
one another." 1 

Locke had distinguished two sources of experience 
sensation and reflection. Condillac rejects the latter, on 
the ground that reflection is either essentially sensation 
itself, or else it is a channel through which the sensory 
material flows, rather than an independent source of ex- 
perience. 2 The material of our experiences consists 
wholly in sensations and mental operations upon them. 3 
There are two species of mental process: operations of 
the understanding and of volition* 

The fundamental operations of the understanding are 
reduced to perception and three special phases of per- 
ception: consciousness, attention, and memory (rlminis- 
cence)* Condillac regards consciousness as awareness 
of an impression, which is equivalent to perception. At- 
i Essa!,' p. 8. * ' Traite,' p. 13. 3 Essaif . ^ Ig> 4 p. 3 & 


tention occurs when a certain cognition appears to be 
the only perception of which we are aware. 1 Memory 
is the association between present perceptions and earlier 
experiences. 2 The course of this association is facilitated 
by the use of signs, and particularly by conventional 
signs, which have only an arbitrary relation to our ideas. 3 
These signs, which constitute language, enable man to 
awaken the ideas with which they are connected. 4 They 
serve in this way to exercise the mental operations and 
to develop experience. In particular, associations with 
the past are built up and the mind becomes less depend- 
ent upon the objects which affect the senses. 5 The exer- 
cise of attention in connection with memory develops a 
special variety of operation called reflection, 6 which 
enables us to direct the attention according to our desires. 7 

In similar fashion Condillac takes up certain modes of 
reflection: discrimination, abstraction, comparison, com- 
position and decomposition of ideas, the judgment process 
(which includes the double operation of affirmation and 
denial), reasoning, and conception. The ' understand- 
ing ' itself is nothing but the entire group of these mental 
operations, 8 which rest one and all upon the association 
of ideas. 

Nowhere does Condillac attempt a systematic classifi- 
cation of the laws of association. Dewaule, who has 
made a careful study of his writings, finds allusions to 
five laws: Contiguity, Resemblance, Intensity, Frequency 
or Vividness, and Inseparability. 9 

As a broad general analysis of the contents of expe- 
rience, Condillac's scheme is more thoroughly empirical 
than Locke's and compares favorably with that of Hart- 
ley and the later British associationists. Studied in 

iR 54. 2 P. 52- S P.75. *P. 86. 

5 P. 88. P. 89. m T P. s Q2. 8 R iid. 

9 * Condillac et la psychologic anglaise contemporaine,' 1892, p. 
100. The references cited for these laws are 'TraiteY Pt I, ck 2^ 
pp. 68, 82, 85; Pt II, ch. 3, PP. 207, 303, 309. 


detail, however, it is lacking in the concreteness which 
characterizes these thinkers. The application of associa- 
tion in specific cases is asserted rather dogmatically, with 
no attempt to demonstrate by illustration. The impor- 
tant operation of judgment is disposed of in a single 
paragraph, and reasoning is scarcely more satisfactorily 
treated. Condillac's program is excellent, but he fails 
to carry it out in such a way as to carry conviction. The 
reduction of experience to a sensory basis, which is even 
more characteristic of his system than his associationism, 
is not within the scope of the present work. His treat- 
ment of association, while thorough-going in intention, is 
superficially carried out and is 'unsatisfactory as a con- 
tribution to psychological analysis. 

2. Bonnet and Helvetius 

With Condillac may be placed a group of writers whose 
analysis is more or less influenced by his writings but 
depends upon other sources as well. The works of 
Hobbes, Locke, and Berkeley were becoming more gen- 
erally known on the Continent; the leading points of 
their systems had permeated French thought, which had 
become receptive to the empirical attitude through the 
teachings of a group of political and philosophical writers 
in France and French Switzerland. 

The epoph-making Encyclopedic belongs to this group 
of writings. Edited by Diderot and d'Alembert, it com- 
prises 17 volumes, the joint product of many contribu- 
tors. The project was launched in 1745, and the volumes 
appeared successively from 1751 to 1765. The psycho- 
logical contributions are not particularly striking. The 
association of ideas is treated in a short article by Abbe 
Claude Yvon, in the first volume (1751); it merely de- 
scribes the traditional conception of Aristotle and Locke. 

JULEEN QFFBAY DE LA METTRIE (1709-1751), a writer 


of the same period, deserves passing mention. A 
thorough-going materialist, he seeks to demonstrate the 
mechanistic nature of human activity, in a work appropri- 
ately entitled ' LTiomme machine 7 ( 1 748) . From certain 
evidences of bodily activity after death he denies the 
historic conception of a 'soul' which is released from 
the body at death. His own conception of the mind is 
given in an earlier work, * L'histoire naturelle de Fame ' 
(1745). Claparede cites him as using the notion of 
association to explain the formation of ideas. 1 The 
present writer is unable to find any passage in either of 
these works which expressly employs the association 

Of far greater significance are the writings of Bonnet 
and Helvetius, which belong to this period. 

CHARLES BONNET (1720-1793), a Swiss, published 
anonymously in 1754 a work entitled 'Essai de psy- 
chologic/ which he later acknowledged and reprinted 
among his collected writings. His larger work, Essai 
analytique sur les facultes de 1'ame/ appeared in 1760. 
The latter work is confessedly influenced by Condillac. 
Bonnet states that he had independently conceived the 
idea of using the simile of a statue and had already 
written two chapters when he heard of Condillac's 
* Traite ' and read it, revising his plan somewhat to con- 
form with Condillac's treatment. Whether the * Essai 
de psychologic ' was influenced by Condillac's earlier work 
is uncertain. It offers more striking suggestions of 
Hartley, yet not sufficient to indicate a careful study of 
the c Observations on Man/ We may venture the 
hypothesis that Bonnet had read Hartley's ' Conjectural 
which appeared anonymously about 1731. Bonnet's 
emphasis on nerve fibers, the conciseness of his style, and 
the anonymity of his earlier work lend color to this view. 

The distinctive feature of Bonnet's work is his attempt 
1 * l/association des idees/ p. 16. 


to explain mental phenomena in physiological terms. 
Like Hartley, he regards experience as due to the activity 
of fibers in the brain. " All our ideas depend ordinarily 
upon movements or vibrations which are excited in cer- 
tain parts of our brain." * Association is a kind of sym- 
pathetic vibration. The recall of ideas, he says, is due 
apparently to " a modification of the motor force of the 
soul, which acts on the fibers or on our spirits [sur les 
esprits] and arouses in them movements similar to those 
which objects generate." 2 The mind is usually affected 
by several ideas at the same time; when one of these re- 
appears it ordinarily awakens some of the others which 
formerly accompanied it. Memory, imagery, and in fact 
all mental operations admit of a mechanical explanation. 3 
" Certain tones, certain movements, arouse one another 
because they have frequently occurred in succession. 
From these repeated successions there is generated in the 
machine [Le. the organ of thought] an habitual disposition 
to perform a certain series of tones [suite d'airs] or a 
certain series of movements more readily than any other 
series." 4 The more often such movements are repro- 
duced, the more readily does the mind reproduce them. 5 
The mechanism of association is explained more fully 
in the 'Essai analytique.' Each brain fiber is affected 
by a certain object and is set in movement in a specific 
fashion. This creates in the fiber a disposition or tend- 
ency to move in a certain manner rather than another. 
Since the entire fiber is affected by the object, if it re- 
ceives some new sort of impression it will yield to this 
impression, but with regard to the dispositions which it 
has received from previous impressions. This modifica- 
tion due to the past, serves to arouse the memory of the 
sensation connected with the vibration of the fiber. 6 " It 

1 ' Essai de psychologic/ ch. 4. The present writer is responsible 
for translation of quotations in this chapter, unless indicated. 
2 Ibid, Ch. 5. * Ch. 6. 5 Ch. 63. * Essai anal ' 21. 


is possible," he declares, " that two sensory fibers which 
touch at but a single point, may set each other mutually 
into vibration if both have previously been set into 
vibration by [the same] object." * 

Bonnet's relation to Hartley is indicated by these pas- 
sages. Impressions are due to vibrations of brain fibers, 
which leave dispositions. These dispositions cause 
changes in the effects producing new stimuli; and the 
re-echoing of old modes of vibrations thus brought about 
are the basis of memory, imagination, and general ideas. 
His physiological standpoint leads him to emphasize habit 
and what we would now call ' neural set 7 or disposition, 
more than Condillac or the English writers of the same 
period. But this principle of retention is insufficient by 
itself. The actual working of mind in Its higher opera- 
tions is based upon the principle of association, which 
Bonnet interprets as a principle of neural mechanism. 

CLAUSE ADSIEN HELVETIUS (1715-1771), whose an- 
cestors were originally a German family of physicians 
called Schweitzer, is chiefly important as the connecting 
link between the earlier and later periods of the French 
movement. His writings add little or nothing to empirical 
psychology. But his home was the center where gathered 
a group of young thinkers, including Cabanis and Destutt 
de Tracy, who imbibed the sensationist tradition and 
later formed a politico-psychological school known as 
ideologues, or ideologists. After the death of Helvetius 
his wife, Mme. Anne Catherine Helvetius, continued her 
salon, and at one time during the Revolution the 
ideologists played a prominent part in governmental 

Helvetius's psychology is found in two works, c De 
I'esprit' (1758) and *De Fhomme, de ses facultes Intel- 


2 The name Is spelled without accent in some early editions of his 
works and may be properly so spelled in English. 


lectuelles, et de son education > (posthumous). In 
neither is the principle of association developed. The 
sensory basis of all experience is the corner-stone of his 
system. The mind possesses two faculties or < passive 
powers 7 the faculty of receiving different impressions 
from external objects, and the faculty of preserving the 
impressions which these objects make upon us. 1 The 
former capacity he terms physical sensibility. The 
capacity to preserve impressions called memory serves 
merely to continue our sensations in weakened form. 2 In 
other words, sensibility produces all our ideas, since to 
recollect (ressouvenir) is only to have feeling (sentir). 
This groundwork suggests Hobbes's influence. But 
Helvetius asserts rather his obligation to Locke, claim- 
ing that his views are similar to the latter's. He shows 
also the influence of Hume, to whom 1 he refers ex- 

Proceeding from this fundamental position, Helvetius 
holds that the development of mind in the individual de- 
pends far more upon education and environment (cir con- 
stances} than upon any inborn gift of nature. 3 Our 
mentality, virtue, genius, are all the product of instruc- 
tion. 4 All false judgments on our part, he declares, are 
the effect of either passion or ignorance. 5 In ethics he 
is a forerunner of utilitarianism, holding that uprightness 
consists in actions which are useful to society. 6 

The psychology of Helvetius is sensationistic and aims 
at a thorough empiricism. It fails in the latter because 
the author has found no specific principle association 
or other to account for the differentiation of mental 
states. As a result his examination is largely speculative. 
He vehemently denies the accusation of materialism raised 
against him. It would appear that his explanation of 

i ' De 1'esprit/ Disc. I, ch. i. * Ibid. 

* Ibid., Disc IIL * ' De I'homme/ sec. i, ch. 7. 

* * De 1'esprit, I, chs. 2, 3. Ibid., II, ch. 5. 


the mind-body relation is too fragmentary to either refute 
or substantiate the charge. 

3. The Ideologists 

The ideologist movement may be regarded as a third 
stage in the French development. It corresponds to the 
English development under the Mills and Bain, though 
somewhat earlier in point of time. This movement was 
the direct outcome of Mme. Helvetius's salon. Destutt 
de Tracy, one of the leading members, was the adopted 
son of the Helvetius couple. Cabanis was their warm 
friend; he and Condorcet married sisters of General de 
Grouchy. Other frequenters of the salon were Sieyes of 
the republican Directory, Volney, Roederer, Daunou, and 
Ginguene all prominent in revolutionary politics and in 
the world of letters. After the downfall of Robespierre 
this circle played a leading part in constitution making. 
When Napoleon came into power he shrewdly fostered 
their literary activity while gradually suppressing the 
political influence of the school. The result is seen in 
the works which began to appear, embodying the doc- 
trines of the group in various fields of thought. 

1836) furnished the psychological basis of the system in 
his five-volume ' Elements d'ideologie > (1801-1815). His 
system is merely a restatement of Condillac, of whom he 
believed himself to be the very last disciple. 1 Destutt de 
Tracy reduces the mental faculties or operations to four, 
which give rise to corresponding kinds of perceptions: 
sensations, memories, judgments, and desires. TTie last 
three are all derived from sensations. In his analysis 
sensation is more important than association. Like Con- 
dillac (and in some degree Bonnet) he takes for granted 
the liaison of mental states without analyzing the process. 

i ' Elements/ art. ' Condiilac.' 


sized the physiological side more fully than Destutt de 
Tracy. In his chief psychological work, ' Rapports du 
physique et du morale de Thomme ' (1802) he examines 
the nature of the sensory process. Ideas, he asserts, arise 
not merely from sensations due to external objects, but 
from visceral dispositions and dispositions from other 
internal organs. 1 With him the point of emphasis is the 
source of experience, which he places outside the mind 
in objects or bodily conditions which serve as stimuli. 
The manner in which the sensory material is woven to- 
gether into complex experiences he does not seem to 
have regarded as a specific psychological problem. 

Curiously enough the most distinctive contribution to 
the association psychology during this period was by one 
who later adopted a voluntaristic standpoint. M. F. P. G. 
MAINE DE BIRAN (1766-1824) emphasizes especially the 
motor factor in experience, and the role of habit in modi- 
fying experience. While still associated with Destutt de 
Tracy and Cabanis he wrote his * Influence de Phabitude- 
sur les facultes de penser ' (1802), in which he expressly 
mentions Condillac and Bonnet as his models. 

According to Maine de Biran, the most widespread 
faculty among living creatures is that of receiving im- 
pressions a term which he prefers to sensation. 2 Our 
impressions are either active or passive. Pleasure, pain, 
warmth, cold, etc. are passive we have no power to 
modify them directly. But when we move, we have ac- 
tive impressions. This latter form of impression he calls 
movement, in distinction from feeling (sentiment), which 
is his general name for passive impressions. Both sorts 
are included under perception. Maine de Biran distin- 
guishes between memory as active revival, and imagina- 
tion which is passive. 3 Movements are the cause of 

1 * Rapports,' Mem. II, 4. * Influence de 1'habitude/ p. 13. 
3 P. 72. 


active phenomena. On this basis he divides his own work 
into the examination of passive and active habits. 

Movements and passive impressions, according to 
Maine de Biran, are combined in a common center. Even 
those perceptions which are apparently the most simple 
are due to the combination of still more elementary data. 1 
This brings him to an examination of the principles of 
association. In addition to the laws of simultaneous and 
successive association he formulates a third principle, the 
law of signs and of the things signified: " When one of 
several impressions associated in a series or simultaneous 
group serves as sign [i.e. symbol] of the total perception, 
the latter . . . often attracts only the most superficial 
attention." 2 In other words, the symbol a word or 
verbal thought becomes the prominent factor in the 
experience, while the objective perception is barely 

Summing up the influence of habit on memory, he 
states the following laws: (i) Through repetition the suc- 
cession of movements becomes more ready, tends to pass 
unperceived, finally becomes automatic. (2) The succes- 
sion of modifications, feelings, or ideas evoked by articu- 
lation grows now weaker, now stronger, according to the 
prominence of the symbol and transitoriness of the object 
signified. (3) The succession of symbols and ideas comes 
to be interwoven in a species of chain, whereby recall 
becomes more facilitated, more certain, more easy of 
interpretation, 5 

The influence of Maine de Biran is seen in the writings 
of PEERKE LAROMIGUIRE (1756-1837), whose chief 
work, * Lemons de philosophic, 7 (2 vols., 1815-1837), bears 
the subtitle 'Essai sur les facultes de Tame.' Laro- 
miguiere regards sensation not as a mental faculty, but 
as furnishing the material upon which the mind acts. 
Distinguishing like Maine de Biran between the activity 

i P. 134- 2 P- 174- s P 


and passivity of mind, he holds that sensation is merely 
the passive or receptive capacity. There are two funda- 
mental faculties, understanding and volition. Under- 
standing includes three subordinate faculties: attention, 
comparison, and reasoning. Volition includes desire, 
preference, and freedom, which correspond in a manner 
to the faculties of the understanding. 

Laromiguiere's empiricism is shown in his rejection of 
innate ideas. He finds four classes of ideas: (i) sensory 
ideas, (2) ideas of the mental faculties, (3) ideas of rela- 
tions, and (4) moral ideas. The principle of association 
is not expressly developed in any of his writings. 

4. Later French Associationism 

The influence of Hartley, the Mills, and Bain was felt 
in the later development of the French empirical psy- 
chology, and produced a distinctly associationistic trend 
in the works of Mervoyer and Taine. These writers rep- 
resent the fourth stage of the French movement. 

PIERRE J&A&SSGB MERVQYER (iSos-ca. 1866) 1 is the 
best exponent of associationism in France. His c Etude 
sur Fassociation des idees ' (1864) acknowledges the in- 
fluence of Locke, Hume, Hartley, J. S. Mill, Spencer, and 
Bain. The general analysis of the work follows Bain. 
Singularly he fails to mention James Mill, though ap- 
parently familiar with his views. Human knowledge, he 

1 Mervoyer was born at Esquennoy (Oise) September 22, 1805, 
and was graduated at Paris with the degree of Hcencie-es-lettres. 
He went to America, where he taught for several years. In De- 
cember, 1852, he was appointed to the chair of English in the Lycee 
of Pau. In October, 1854, he was transferred to the Lycee 
of Auch, and in October, 1855, to the Lycee of Douai, where he 
remained till his retirement in 1866. From 1864 to 1866 he was 
given leave of absence on account of ill-health. The writer has 
made every effort to trace his subsequent history without result. 
The serious state of Mervoyer's health and the fact that he ceased 
to write makes it probable that he died soon after his retirement in 


holds, depends altogether upon two great principles: the 
law of continuity, and the law of resemblance. 1 The 
former is objective, the latter subjective. These two 
laws account for the genesis of sensory ideas, movements, 
and feelings of movement. 

The law of continuity (which is equivalent to con- 
tiguity) accounts for the association of sensations. Not 
merely sensations of the same sort or those from the 
same organ are associated, strengthened, and amplified 
by repetition; but sensations of different origin are united 
so closely in the process of internal elaboration, that there 
issues from the combination an idea which though com- 
plex appears simple at first sight. 2 

If the law of continuity is of major importance in per- 
ception, the law of resemblance is preeminent in the 
higher mental processes. Without resemblance neither 
language nor science could arise. Communication itself 
depends upon resemblance the application of the same 
word to similar precepts and ideas. Reasoning, in both 
its deductive and inductive forms, depends upon the same 
principle. Mervoyer lays stress upon latent or uncon- 
scious association, which molds and perfects our habitual 
acts and spontaneous adjustments. 3 

The distinctive features of Mervoyer's analysis are: 
(i) His thorough-going associationism. (2) Reduction 
of the principles of association to continuity (or con- 
tiguity) and resemblance. (3) Identification of the 
former with objective processes, while the latter is re- 
garded as a distinctively subjective operation. (4). The 
application of association to sensations and other simul- 
taneous combinations as well as to ideas. (5) Extension 
of the associative principle to movements and subcon- 
scious operations. 

The influence of the association psychology in France 
is seen in a number of other writers. Th. Simon Jouffroy 

* * Etude/ ch. i. 2 Ch. 4. s Ch, 12. 


in philosophy and Claude Bernard in science owe much 
to James Mill and Hartley respectively. Taine and 
Ribot, leading psychologists of the second half of the 
ipth century, accept the laws of association as funda- 
mental principles of mental activity, though Ribot at least 
does not assign them an exclusive role like Mervoyer. 

HIPPOLYTE ADOLPHE TAINE (1828-1893) may be re- 
garded as the culmination of the French association 
movement In his work 'De Intelligence 3 (1870) the 
traditional method of introspective analysis dominates. 
Experimental psychology had not yet begun to exert its 
influence. Taine is an associationist rather than a sen- 
sationist; a thorough supporter of the new brain physi- 
ology; a believer in the future of experimental research 
whose beginnings in Weber, Helmholtz, and Fechner he 
utilizes freely. 1 

Taine's starting-point is the notion of mental signs, 
which he attributes to Condillac. " A sign is a present 
experience which suggests the idea of a possible experi- 
ence." 2 The suggestion operates through association. 
When we stand in a city square at night the vague sensa- 
tion of moving spots may suggest to us a throng of human 
individuals walking about. The perception of an event 
or object may arouse the conception of another event or 
object. Among the many classes of signs one species is 
especially noteworthy: a name is a sensation or image 
which arouses in us an image or group of images. In 
certain cases the second image or group is not actually 
aroused; the name then becomes a substitute for the 

The peculiarity of Taine's presentation is that he starts 
with the analysis of the symbolic data of experience. 
Imagery is treated next, and sensation is taken up only 

1 He is more widely known as the author of a valuable 'History 
of English Literature/ 

2 * De rintelligence/ ch. I. 


after these have been disposed of. His discussion of the 
data of experience concludes with an examination of the 
physical basis of experience. The second part of his work 
deals with the various sorts of experience in a somewhat 
unsystematic way. This latter portion is primarily 
epistemological, and is open to the same criticism as the 
works of Locke and Hume from the standpoint of 
psychological analysis. 

Taine devotes a chapter to the laws of association of 
ideas. 1 Ideational experience rests upon the capacity of 
sensations to be revived even after long intervals. The 
actual renewal depends both upon certain characteristics 
of the original sensations themselves and upon special cir- 
cumstances which lead to their revival in the form of 
images. The capacity of a sensation for revival depends 
upon (r) our degree of attention to it (whether volun- 
tarily or involuntarily) at the time of its original ap- 
pearance; and (2) the frequency of its occurrence. Its 
revival at any specific moment depends upon the laws of 
(i) contiguity and (2) similarity. But Taine points out 
that sensations (and consequently images also) are not 
detached experiences. One sensation passes imperceptibly 
over into another; there is no clear line of demarcation. 
Hence, when an image begins to be recalled through 
similarity or contiguity, the entire experience to which it 
belongs is likely to be revived. Accordingly, the laws of 
contiguity and similarity may be reduced to a single law: 
the tendency of sensation (and imagery) to revival. This 
tendency insures the successful completion of an image 
which has begun to appear, which is accompanied by 
attention, and which has been strengthened by repetition. 

The precise meaning of Taine's general law is not clear. 

His exposition, here as elsewhere, is unfortunately neither 

detailed nor systematic, though extremely suggestive. 

One is reminded of Hamilton's Law of Redintegration. 

iptl, Bk.Il, ch.,2. 


And yet Taine's fundamental law seems less satisfactory 
and convincing than Hamilton's when taken at its face 
value, though it carries further and explains association 
better if restated in terms of neural activity- Taine him- 
self holds to the double-aspect interpretation of the mind- 
body relation. 1 One may regard the revival process as an 
irradiation of the nerve current into neighboring brain 
centers, renewing the traces left there by former impres- 
sions, and thus ' reviving' experiences which are either 
similar to the present experience, or which on former 
occasions affected brain centers adjacent to it. 2 If this 
is Taine's real meaning (which is only conjectural), his 
law is far more in keeping with contemporary views than 
Hamilton's, As actually stated and illustrated it is 
merely a third principle supplementing similarity and 

The conception of mental chemistry is formulated more 
adequately by Taine than by the English associationists. 
It is embodied in three general laws of sensation, (i) 
Similarity: Two sensations which separately yield no 
consciousness may, when they appear in immediate suc- 
cession, form a total sensation which is perceived by con- 
sciousness. (2) Analysis: A sensation which is not con- 
sciously decomposable^ and which is apparently simple, 
is a compound of successive and simultaneous sensations 
which are themselves compound. (3) Quality: Two sen- 
sations which are of the same nature and which differ 
only in size, arrangement, and number of elements, appear 
to consciousness as mutually irreducible and endowed 
with absolutely different special qualities. 8 

Taine's analysis of sensations yields little apart from 
these three laws. It is interesting to note that he starts 
with the sense of hearing, to which he apparently at- 

* Pt. I, Bk. IV, ch. 2. 

3 Compare Lewes's notion of irradiation and his law of rein- 


taches greater importance than to sight or the other 
senses. 1 He limits his discussion to the five traditional 
senses, ignoring James Mill's alimentary sense; the 
muscle sense is included under touch. 

The synthetic part of Taine's work is disappointing to 
the psychologist. His interest being primarily epistemo- 
logical, he confines himself almost wholly to the intellect, 
leaving out of account the emotional and active phases of 
mental life. The perception of the external world is most 
adequately examined. Taine goes beyond J. S. Mill's 
definition of matter as the permanent possibility of sen- 
sation; matter is also, he points out, the necessary pre- 
supposition of sensation, since our experiences depend 
upon stimulation by objects in the external world. 2 

We may class Taine's psychology as a pure associa- 
tional system, carried out with some degree of thorough- 
ness on the side of analysis, but inadequate on the syn- 
thetic side. Soon after his work appeared the experi- 
mental movement in psychology began to attract atten- 
tion in France. Later empirical writers abandoned the 
older analytic method for laboratory research. During 
the transition period the voluntaristic movement and 
a priori analysis held sway. As in England, the old asso- 
ciation psychology was suddenly checked, to be replaced 
in a short time by a different type of association study. 

In concluding this survey of the French sensation- 
association movement, reference should be made to Ribot, 
whose historical work was mentioned in the first chapter. 
THODULE ASMANDE RIBOT (1839-1903) belongs more 
properly to the experimental school, but shows his appre- 
ciation of French sensationism and English associationism 
and recognizes their affinity with the newer method of 
laboratory research. His historical work La psychologic 
anglaise contemporaine * (1870) was designed to inform 

1 Condillac starts with the sense of smell 
*PL II, Bk. II, ck i, 6. 


French thinkers concerning the English association psy- 
chology. That his interest is distinctly psychological is 
shown by the fact that his survey begins with Hartley, 
where the philosophical historian would have given 
prominence to Locke and Hume. 

Ribot's original contributions to psychology are mainly 
in the experimental and pathological fields* As editor of 
the Revue philosophique for many years, he fostered 
empiricism in philosophy and psychology, using his influ- 
ence against a priori methods in both fields. Just as Taine 
has given us one of his ablest histories of English litera- 
ture, so Ribot's history of English associationism is the 
most sympathetic and discerning examination of the 
movement that has appeared. 

5. Italian Contributions 

The association movement exerted far less influence in 
Italy than in France. The study of psychology was in 
abeyance in the Italian states during the i8th century 
and the early part of the igth, and only began to be 
effectively pursued when United Italy approached the 
threshold of realization. Italian psychology prior to the 
experimental awakening caused by Weber and Fechner 
is almost negligible. 

One work, which appeared in the i8th century, shows 
a distinct leaning toward associationism. It is an essay 
by FRANCESCO MARIA ZANOTTI (1692-1777) entitled 
' Delia forza attrativa delle idee.' Zanotti originally 
published this under a French pseudonym of Marquis de 
la Tourry, and dated it 1747. The actual date of pub- 
lication is uncertain: it is included in Zanotti's 'Opere 

Zanotti follows Hume's conception of a subtle force 
which serves to bind ideas together. His treatment is 
highly imaginative and somewhat fanciful. He pictures 


the attractive force among ideas as a sort of electric phe- 
nomenon; its influence extends to the connection of propo- 
sitions into syllogisms. The theory is not worked out in 
detail and is vague to an extreme. It is part of a gen- 
eral cosmology, which starts out with a discussion of cor- 
poreal or material forces (forsa de 9 cor pi}, and attempts 
to carry the analogy of these forces into the realm of 
mental phenomena and finally into the sphere of non- 
existing things ( c forza attrativa delle cose che non sono *). 
The work of Zanotti met with little success and bore no 

PASQUALE GALLUPPI (1770-1846) is the only other 
Italian writer who seems to have been greatly influenced 
by associationism. His c Element! di psicologia ' (1834), 
the second part of his philosophy, while combating the 
sensationism of Condillac and Bonnet, attaches consid- 
erable importance to the association of ideas. GalluppI 
recognizes seven elementary mental faculties: internal 
sensibility, external sensibility, the analytic faculty, im- 
agination, synthesis, desire, and will. Imagination (or 
imagery) is subject to the following principle: " A past 
perception returns whenever part of it returns." Con- 
tiguity is thus taken as the chief law of association of 
ideas, and is made to account for the succession of im- 
agery and trains of thought. Memory in the strict sense 
is a subordinate and non-elementary faculty. Galluppi 
emphasizes the role of habit or repetition in producing 
facility of performance. He also insists that vocal 
utterances play a leading part in the formation of 

The list of * faculties ' is sufficient indication that Gal- 
luppfs system is by no means strictly associationistic. 
The analytic function is regarded as equal in importance 
to synthesis. Attention, one variety of analysis, is as 
fundamental as association. Galluppi's system may be 
regarded as a protest against Kantian rationalism, and 


as an attempt to keep the empirical psychology alive in 
Italy. He is at most an echo of the association movement. 

The historical work of LUIGI FERRI (1826-1895) has 
already been mentioned. 1 This volume, written originally 
in Italian (' Sulla dottrina psicologica dell' associazione/ 
1878), was later expanded and translated into French 
under the title of * La psychologie de Passociation depuis 
Hobbes jusqu'a nos jours ' (1883), %&& was awarded dis- 
tinctive 'honors by the French Academy of Moral and 
Political Sciences. While he portrays the association sys- 
tem with fairness, Ferri does not accept its principles, 
and in the second part of his book he subjects it to a 
drastic critique. 

Ferri is an adherent of intuitionism and distinguishes 
between the lower and higher capacities of mind. The 
lower or sensory capacities build up complex phenomena 
by association; but the underlying principle of associa- 
tion is coexistence and succession not resemblance. The 
principle of similarity (or resemblance) is fundamentally 
a sense of relation, and belongs to the higher capacities 
or functions of the mind. Syntheses, which are based 
upon resemblance, are operations of the understanding, 
and are utterly distinct from sensory associations. 

The work of Ferri was an important factor in prevent- 
ing the spread of associationism in Italy, He combated 
with some success the positivistic philosophy of R. Ardigo, 
whose psychology was akin to the association school. 

On the whole, the English movement affected Italian 
psychology but little. The Cartesian and German ra- 
tionalistic methods were dominant in the earlier period 
and the voluntarism of Maine de Biran exerted some 
influence in the ipth century. The positive philosophy 
of Comte, which minimizes the study of psychology, had 
many disciples. While it supported empiricism in science, 
the positivistic movement was concerned mainly with the 
1 Chapter I. 


physical sciences and sociology. The association psy- 
chology was unable to secure a foothold in Italy. 

6. German Contributions 

In Germany the pure association psychology found no 
disciples. Rational and a priori methods were generally 
in the ascendent until the experimental laboratory move- 
ment began to make itself felt. The Aristotelian laws of 
association received considerable attention in the 1 8th 
century. In the first half of the ipth century Fries, Her- 
bart, Beneke, and others developed systems in which as- 
sociation played an important part. 

An early instance of the use of the principle of associa- 
tion is found in BENEDICT SPINOZA (1632-1677), who 
applies it in his * Ethics ' (1674) to the theory of emo- 
tion. G. W. L. LEIBNITZ (1646-1716) made no use of 
the principle, but it has been pointed out * that he rec- 
ognizes the occurrence of association by contiguity. 
JOHANN AUGUST ERNESTI (1707-1781), in a work en- 
titled *De mente humana' (1734), gives three laws of 
recall: (i) Similarity; (2) Part and whole; (3) Simul- 
taneity. It will be noticed that succession is omitted 
from the list, as well as Aristotle's principle of con- 
trariety. The second and third laws are but slightly 
differentiated; for the law of part and whole means that 
the part tends to recall the whole of which it is a part, 
and this is usually a simultaneous experience of all 

JOHANN NIC. TETENS (1738-1807) also attaches con- 
siderable importance to the associative process. In his 
* Philosophische Versuche iiber die menschliche Natur' 
(1777) he states that ideas are renewed by one another 
(r) according to their previous connection, and (2) ac- 
cording to similarity. 2 This principle, which is virtually 

1 Frenzel, B., ' Der Associationsbegriff bei Leibnitz,' pp. 94-5- 

2 13, P. 107. 


a restatement of the laws of contiguity and similarity, 
he regards as a significant principle of mental activity, 
but not the sole connective principle. It applies to 
phantasy only, not to sensation; and it is not a mode of 
linking ideas into new series. The psychology of Tetens 
is more nearly related to the Scottish school than to as- 

During the quarter century from 1770 to 1795, for 
some reason which is not clear, the laws of association 
were made the subject of several apparently independent 
studies in Germany. Hamilton cites some of these in his 
Note on the History of Mental Association. 1 Their chief 
significance is the influence they apparently had in direct- 
ing the attention of later psychologists toward the asso- 
ciation doctrine. They are mainly of the doctorate thesis 
type and contribute little to the theory. We need only 
cite them by title: Mich. Hissmann, ' Geschichte der 
Lehre von der Association der Ideen' (1777); C G. 
Bardili, 'Ueber die Gesetze der Ideenassociation und 
insbesondere ein bisher unbekanntes Grundgesetz dersel- 
ben' (1778); A. J. Dorsch, 'Ueber die Ideenverbindung 
und die darauf gegriindeten Seelenverstande ' (1788); 
Johann August Goerenz, a work cited by Hamilton as 
' Vestigia 5 (i7gi); 2 and Johann Gebhard Ehrenreich 
Maass, 'Versuch iiber die Einbildungskraf t ' (1792). 

How far these studies stimulated opposition to the ra- 
tionalistic psychology of Kant and his successors is 
uncertain. They at least indicate a tendency toward 
empirical methods, which first manifested itself in J. F. 
Herbart and more clearly in Johannes Miiller and E. H. 
Weber, leading through them to the development of 
experimental psychology and laboratory research, in 
which Germany took the lead at the start. 

i Reid's 'Works/ Note D**. 

2 The present writer has not been able to find this work or identify 
its full title. 


Even before Herbart, the empirical method was 
adopted by JAKOB FRIEDRICH FRIES (1773-1843), whose 
psychological analysis (like Hume's) was merely an 
adjunct to his epistemology. The principle of associa- 
tion is employed as an explanation of mental phenomena 
in his ' Neue oder anthropologische Kritik der Vernunf t ' 
(1807). Fries extends the principle of association not 
only to ideas but to all inner or mental activities. Ex- 
periences of every sort are strengthened when they are 
linked together. 1 The associative process, rather than a 
mental faculty of apperception, accounts for degrees of 
attention in consciousness. 

7. Herbart and Beneke 

Of far greater significance for empirical psychology is 
the work of JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERBART (1776-1841). 
His ' Lehrbuch der Psychologic ? (1816) marks an epoch 
in German psychology. Herbart's interest was more 
pedagogical than philosophical; consequently in his con- 
cept of mind he emphasizes growth and plasticity instead 
of adhering to a rigid scheme of innate mental powers. 
Opposed to Kant's a priori treatment, doubtful as to the 
division of mind into separate faculties, Herbart regards 
experience as resulting from the clash of elementary data, 
which strive to rise above the threshold of consciousness 
and which modify one another in the struggle. For 
Herbart, association is a subordinate phenomenon; the 
opposition of impressions and their mutual resistance is 
the primary fact of experience. 

Experiences are made up of simple elementary impres- 
sions (Vorstellungeri). These elementary data are in 
some cases not in mutual opposition, as for example a 
tone and a color. In most cases, however, they resist one 
another wholly or in part, and as a result one exerts an 


inhibitory influence upon the other. The amount of in- 
hibition undergone by each member of the group may 
be expressed by a mathematical formula. If one member 
is very weak it may be submerged below the threshold 
of consciousness, to rise later if the opposing force is 
withdrawn. The stronger members of the group are like- 
wise inhibited to some extent, but remain above the 
threshold. The content of consciousness at any mo- 
ment is the resultant of these opposing forces, together 
with the synthesis of such elements as are not in oppo- 

The change of stimulation and inner activity from mo- 
ment to moment produces a continual variation in the 
total content of consciousness, some elements increasing 
in strength, others diminishing; some rising from an un- 
conscious state to consciousness, others falling below the 
threshold of consciousness. The data which are repressed 
and submerged below the threshold are not wholly 
destroyed, but remain as tendencies, somewhat in the 
sense of the modern Freudian notion of subconscious data. 
The total consciousness at any moment, then, is due to 
the balance of forces in the elementary impressions which 
are striving against one another. The composition of 
experience is the result of this opposition and of the inter- 
play of non-opposing data. Thus we find two processes 
operating to bring about complex experiences integra- 
tion or complication (Complexion), and fusion (Ver- 
schmehung). Complication is the synthesis of non- 
contrasted data, fusion is the result of partial suppres- 
sion of factors which nevertheless enter as components 
into a unitary experience. 

Experimental investigation has since demonstrated the 
falsity of Herbart's mathematical formula. His work was 
based on hypotheses which have not been borne out. He 
did not take sufficient account of the neural activity which 
produces impressions. Nevertheless his conception of 


elementary data and their mutual interworkings was sug- 
gestive and stimulated experimental research. 

In a similar way Herbart's treatment of association 
was the starting-point of experimental investigation of 
that problem. He dismisses as matters of slight impor- 
tance the association of ideas according to temporal and 
spatial grouping and according to resemblance and con- 
trast. " Rather we may mention here the varied com- 
plicated course which reproduction often takes; for ex- 
ample, he who finds coals and ashes in a forest thinks 
immediately of burning wood which (farther backward) 
may have lain dry in the forest; then (forward) of men 
who may have camped there and who may have set fire 
to it. But how came the men there? (THis question 
goes backward.) What has become of them? (For- 
ward.) What fire might have originated had a storm 
arisen? (Sidewise into the region of possibility.) " * 
This suggests the inquiry into the various types of rela- 
tion which enter into* association and their relative fre- 
quency a problem which began to occupy the attention 
of experimental psychologists some seventy-five years 

Herbart emphasizes the antagonism of mental data 
rather than their association. But in his treatment of 
the development of concepts and judgments his stand- 
point is almost identical with that of the associationists. 
Collective impressions of the same individual in many 
attitudes are formed by the grouping together of many 
separate impressions. These lead to the formation of 
judgments, which are successive associations of concepts. 
A judgment, according to Herbart, is never a simul- 
taneous association (an integration or fusion), since in 
this case the subject and predicate would not be held 
separate but would merge into an individual unit. 2 The 

1 'Lehrbuch der Psychologic/ art 92. Trans, by M. K. Smith, 
p. 72, 2 Art. 181-2, 


fluctuations between different mental states, however, 
bring about successive associations which are frequently 
of the nature of judgments. Words, on account of their 
symbolic nature, are especially fitted to serve as subjects 
in the judgment. Ideas develop in the individual through 
a continuous application of successive association as 
found in judgment. The definition and demarcation of 
general concepts is not reached through the separation 
of integrated experiences, but through the fixed connec- 
tion of each individual element in the integration with 
certain other groups of data already formed. 

In brief, Herbart stands with the association school in 
emphasizing the interaction of mental data. Concrete 
experiences are due to this interworking rather than to 
the synthetic action of specific faculties or powers of 
mind. He parts company with the school in regarding 
the antagonism of mental data as a more important 
factor in the formation of experiences than association. 

FRIEDRICH EDUAKD BENEKE (1798-1854) stands in 
closest relation to associationism of all German writers. 
His psychology is presented in several works: 'Erfah- 
rungsseelenlehre als Grundlage alles Wissens' (1820), 
c Psychologische Skizzen' (2 vols. 1825, 1827), 'Prag- 
matische Psychologie 5 (1832), 'Lehrbuch der Psy- 
chologie als Naturwissenschaft ' (1832), and 'Die neue 
Psychologie ' (1845). L &e Herbart he seeks to explain 
mental states by the interworking of elementary data 
rather than by the activity of mental powers. 

In the ' Lehrbuch ' Beneke recognizes three funda- 
mental types of mental occurrences: (i) The production 
of sensations and perceptions as a result of impressions 
or stimuli from without. (2) The production of new 
capacities within the mind, which exist first as tendencies 
(Strebungen) and later rise above the level of conscious- 
ness. (3) The association of capacities and stimuli into 
more or less stable groups. An experience which has oc- 


curred for a time and has disappeared from conscious- 
ness, continues to exist in an unconscious state as a trace 
(Spur). These traces are not directly known, but are 
observed through their reproductions. 1 The reproduction 
of traces in consciousness is the result of association. 
But according to Beneke the older association theory was 
defective in attributing the basis of association to the rela- 
tions of similarity; simultaneity and sequence, spatial 
contiguity, causality, contrast, etc. For almost every 
idea has at one time or another been associated with 
countless other ideas and in all of these relations. 

The problem, then, is to account for the specific con- 
nection in a given case why the association proceeds 
according to one relation rather than another, and why 
a certain idea is aroused rather than any one of a thousand 
others. 2 Beneke accounts for this by the following law, 
which he regards as the basal principle of association: 
" Starting from any stimulated mental phenomenon, the 
variable elements are always carried over to that other 
phenomenon which is most firmly united to it or identical 
with it." 8 

This law enables us to compare the relative strength 
of the various associative criteria. Simultaneous ele- 
ments are stronger than those whose association rests 
upon sequence; consequently the association of the prop- 
erties of a thing (simultaneity) is usually stronger than 
an association of cause and effect (sequence). Similarity 
is reducible to likeness and difference, both of which ele- 
ments occur simultaneously. Contrast is likewise re- 
solvable into some basal similarity and acts through this 
principle of association. 4 

Regarded as a complete explanation of experience, 
Beneke's theory is open to challenge. He neither adopts 
the neural basis nor substitutes a system of mental forces 
like Herbart. From the standpoint of our present study, 

1 ' Lehrbuch/ pp. 22-8. 2 P. 86. 3 P. 91. * P. 92. 


it is to be noted that Beneke regards the principle of 
association as one of the fundamental factors in the pro- 
duction of experience. Stimulation, mental energy, 
association of the product of these two these are the 
underlying factors in the development of consciousness. 
Beneke's primary law of association differs widely from 
the traditional formulations. It is in fact little more than 
a paraphrase of the physical principle that a body moves 
in the line of least resistance. The chief significance of 
his formula lies in its emphasis on the interaction of 
mental data. Both Beneke and Herbart stand with the 
association school in this, against the faculty psychology 
of the Scottish school and against the doctrine of innate 
ideas. With them belongs a later writer, Karl Fortlage 
(1806-1881), who contributes little, however, to the sub- 
ject of the present study. 

8. Transition to the Experimental Movement 

The transition to the contemporary mode of investigat- 
ing psychological problems is marked by three writers, 
Miiller, Weber, and Lotze. JOHANNES PETER MULLER 
(1801-1858) propounded the doctrine of specific nerve 
energies, which revolutionized the theory of sensation and 
perception. In his 'Handbuch der Physiologic des 
Menschen' (1833-40) he brought forward the hy- 
pothesis that the kind or quality of sensation which 
results from stimulation is determined, not by the mode 
of the stimulus, but by the character of the sense organ. 
This led to a discussion of alternative hypotheses that 
the specific quality of sensation depends upon the sensory 
nerve or upon the character of the brain center to which 
the nerve impulse is carried. Recently physiologists have 
suggested that specific qualities may be the result of the 
various patterns into which elementary impulses are com- 
bined to form sensation. The theory may be regarded 


as a physiological echo of the older associationism. The 
main effect of Miiller's work was to stimulate the experi- 
mental investigation of sensation. This impetus was fur- 
ther assisted by ERNST HEINRICH WEBER (1795-1878), 
whose researches on the relation of stimulus to sensation 
were the starting-point of psychophysics. 

HERMANN LOTZE (1817-1881), whose interests were 
both philosophical and psychological, may be mentioned 
here for the doctrine of local signs propounded in his 
' Medicinische Psychologie' (1852). According to this 
theory each point of a spread-out sense organ bears a 
stamp or hall-mark of its own, by which the sensations 
arising from its stimulation are identified and attributed 
to the proper place of origin on the surface of the body. 
The perception of space relations is due to these local 
signs, and their grouping together results in the percep- 
tion of extended surface. The doctrine of local signs 
opens a possible line of psychological explanation for 
simultaneous association. Lotze himself was skeptical of 
the association theory, however, and regarded investiga- 
tions into the laws and modes of association as a profit- 
less task. 

On the whole, German empirical psychology, con- 
tributed little to the traditional association problem. 
The opponents of the rational psychology, which domi- 
nated in Germany, made use of the association principle; 
but they did not regard it as a cardinal point of psy- 
chology. Some emphasized the physiological processes 
which underlie mental states; to others the conflict of 
mental data appeared even more significant than the 
synthetic principle. 

Their work as a whole shows a trend toward experi- 
mental study of the data of experience; and this led in 
due time to a shift of interest in psychology from intro- 
spective analysis to laboratory research. The contempo- 
rary development of psychology may be regarded as the 


direct outcome of this movement. Fechner and Wundt 
are the historical successors of Herbart and Beneke, 
through the medium of Lotze, Miiller, and Weber. 

The experimental movement, starting in Germany, 
spread to France, America, England, and other countries. 
By comparison with its more exact results, the introspec- 
tive generalizations of the English and Scottish schools 
were seen to be meager and defective. The study of asso- 
ciation by this new method, once begun, went forward 
with surprising rapidity. The leading results of these 
investigations are described in the next chapter. 


1. Beginnings of Experimental Investigation 

SEVERAL influences combined to bring an end to the 
association movement, (i) The Scottish ' faculty psy- 
chology' obtained a foothold in England as well as 
America. In 1838 William Hamilton brought out an 
edition of Thomas Reid's ' Works ' with notes of his own 
which showed considerable sympathy with Reid's system. 
Later James Sully's ' Outlines of Psychology' (1884), a 
combination of the Scottish and English standpoints, was 
welcomed as being more in touch with popular concep- 
tions than Bain's system. Sully emphasizes the faculties 
or ' operations ' of feeling, knowing, and willing, rather 
than the more elusive operations of association and at- 

(2) The a priori method of Kant and his followers, 
brought over from Germany, gained ground in Britain 
and led to a type of psychology in which speculative 
analyses of the cognitive processes were dominant. This 
tendency is seen in James Ward's article on Psychology ' 
in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Ninth Edition, and later 
in the writings of G. F. Stout. 1 The application of the 
rationalistic method to the association problem is illus- 
trated by an article published in Germany in 1872-3 by 
Max Schiessl on the influence of association on the act 
of knowledge. 2 Schiessl reaches the conclusion that any 

1 ' Analytical Psychology/ 1896, and later works. 

2 Untersuchungen uber die Ideenassociation tmd deren Einfluss 
auf den Erkenntnissakt. Zsch. /, Phil. . Kr. f 61, 62. (Page refer- 
ences to articles cited in this chapter will be found in the Bibliog- 
raphy at the end of the volume.) 



idea can be associated with a given idea by means of a 
third idea. This result, though sufficiently broad, affords 
us no real help in understanding the associative process. 

The same method of treatment is found in several Eng- 
lish discussions of the association problem. F. H. 
Bradley, examining the thought process in 1887, finds as- 
sociation inadequate to account for its connections and 
sequences. The underlying motive for the flow of thought 
is the end or purpose determined beforehand. 1 
-(3) The associational analysis had gone as far as it 
could by the sole use of the introspective method. Some- 
thing corresponding to the laboratory investigations used 
in chemistry and physics was needed to determine the 
relative strength of the associative processes. When these 
investigations were actually under way, they suggested 
new experimental problems. Association thus came to 
be viewed not as the fundamental process of human mind, 
but as one among several processes, each complex and 
interwoven in the total manifestations of consciousness. 

This experimental treatment of the association problem 
may be regarded as the logical outgrowth of associa- 
tionism, since it took up the investigation at the point 
reached by the English psychologists and followed in even 
more rigid form the empirical methods which character- 
ized this school. 

The experimental studies and theoretical discussions of 
association problems which have appeared in the 40 years 
since 1879 are so numerous that it would be impossible 
to do justice to them all in this volume. We shall 
merely indicate the general trend of contemporary inves- 
tigation and thought which grew out of the association 
movement. Most of this work followed a few definite 

1 Association and thought Mind, 12. 

An earlier analysis of the same general type is R. Flint's piper on 
the role of association in the genesis of moral ideas. Mind, 1875, I. 


The first investigation of association from the experi- 
mental standpoint was published in 1879 by FRANCIS 
GALTON (1822-1911) in the second volume of Brain, 
under the title of 'Psychometric Experiments.* Galton 
maintains (i) that ideas present themselves to us through 
association with some object newly perceived or with 
some idea already before us; (2) that only such asso- 
ciated ideas as are germane to the topic before us become 
fixed and vivified by attention. His experiments deal with 
several problems connected with the first of these two 

Gallon's method at first was to allow free play to 
thought for a brief period of time, and then to direct 
his attention to the traces of thoughts still lingering. 
During a walk he observed the objects which presented 
themselves successively and afterwards endeavored to 
recall and associate them so far as possible. This part 
of the experiment brought no striking results. 

His next experiment was on reaction time and was 
the precursor of considerable work in that field. Galton's 
procedure was to select at random some word written on 
paper, pressing a stop-watch when the word was per- 
ceived. When two other ideas were associated succes- 
sively with this word the watch was stopped and the time 
noted. The results showed the rate of association to be 
50 words per minute, or 1.2 seconds for a single associa- 
tion. 1 

Galton further examined the tendency to repeat the 
same associations, later called the perseverative tendency. 
Out of 505 associated words only 289 were different; 
33% of the words used occurred once, 23% twice, 
21% three times, and 23% four times. 2 As regards 
recency, he found that 39% of the associations could be 
traced to boyhood and youth, 46% to the period of man- 
hood, while only 15% were of recent date. 8 

i Brain, 1879, *, 153* 2 P- 154- 3 P. 157- 


Finally, Galton distinguished three distinct sorts of 
associations: (i) Associations based upon the sound of 
the word rather than its meaning; (2) Sense-imagery, 
or ideas aroused by the meaning of the word presented; 
(3) Histrionic associations, which picture the perform- 
ance of an action, bringing in the appropriate situations; * 
the last type includes what we now call kinesthetic ele- 
ments. Galton closes the paper with remarks emphasiz- 
ing the nimbleness of thought and the recurrence of the 
same ideas in trains of thinking. 2 

In Wundt's psychological laboratory at Leipzig the 
problem of association was taken up quite early. MARTIN 
TRAUTSCHOLDT published the results of elaborate investi- 
gations 8 in the first volume of Phttosopkische Studien 
(1883). The experiments upon which this paper was 
based were performed in the Leipzig laboratory in 1880. 

Trautscholdt re-examined Gallon's problem on the re- 
action time of association, with much more exact pro- 
cedure. He made use of the newly devised Hipp 
chronoscope, which records time in loooths of a second 
(ff). The association reaction time was found to vary 
between 18960* and 1154^ for his four subjects, the asso- 
ciation time proper being 706^ to 8740*. These figures 
are remarkably close to Galton's results. 

Repeating Galton's investigation upon the recency and 
recurrence of associations, Trautscholdt found the fol- 

Repeated : Once Twice Thrice 4 times 

Dating from childhood and youth 13% 7% 9% 10% 

" " manhood 26 5 7 8 

Of recent date n i 3 o 

1 P. IS9. 

2 About the same time appeared some papers on association by 
Solomon Strieker, entitled 'Studien tiber die Association der 
Vorstellungen' (1883), which have not been accessible to the 
present writer. 

3 Experimented Untersuchungen uber die Association der Vor- 


2. Effects of Repetition and Lapse of Time 

HERMANN EBBINGHAUS (1850-1909) investigated in 
1885 the strength of association as determined by 
repetition and lapse of time. 1 To insure the equiva- 
lence of all his material he used nonsense syllables 
instead of words with meanings. The syllables used 
consisted of two consonants with a vowel sound be- 
tween. About 2300 different combinations were used, 
omitting those which form actual words. The syl- 
lables were grouped into series of various lengths. In 
learning any series the syllables were pronounced aloud 
at a given rate (0.4 sec.) with ictus on every third or 
fourth. A series was always gone through from start to 
finish, and each series was repeated over and over till the 
subject was able to give it correctly on presentation of 
the first term. The number of repetitions required to 
learn a series was found to depend upon the number of 
terms in the series, as follows: 

Series of 7 syllables required i repetition 

" " 16 " 30' " 

" 24 " 44 " 

" 26 " " 55 

A second problem was the retention of the learning 
effect. Taking i6-syllable series, Ebbinghaus found that 
if they had not been previously learned, an average time 
of 1270 seconds was required for memorizing; if they 
had been repeated 8 times, then 24 hours later only 1167 
seconds were required to memorize, a saving of 103 
seconds; and for more repetitions a greater saving of 
learning time was obtained, as follows: 

I'Ueber das Gedachtnis,* 



Number of 





Time for learning 

24 hours later 

1270 sec. 

1167 " 


454 " 

Time saved 

103 sec. 

192 " 

295 I 

407 " 

573 " 

685 " 

816 " 

Tests were also made of learning completely the same 
material on a number of successive days, to determine 
the saving of time due to the previous practice. The re- 
sults were as follows: 

In series of 12 syllables a saving; of 

5.5 repetitions on and over 

zst day 

3-5 " " 3rd 

and " 

2.5 " ' 4th " 

3rd " 

2. " ' 5th " 

4th " 

05 " ' 6th " 

sth " 

In series of 24 syllables a saving of 

21.5 ' 2nd " 

ist " 

10. " 3rd " 

and " 

5- ' 4th " 

3rd " 

3. ' 5th " 

4th " 

i. " 6th " 

Sth " 

In series of 36 syllables a saving of 

32. f " 2nd " 

ist " 

12. i 3rd " 

2nd M 

3-5 ' 4th " 

3rd " 

3. ' Sth " 

4th " 

i. " ' 6th " 

Sth " 

Ebbinghaus's investigations served as model for nu- 
merous later researches. They were repeated on a 
more elaborate scale in 1893 by G. E. MULLER and 
F. SCHUMANN. 1 Nonsense syllables were used, as in 
the earlier experiment; the letters were attached to the 
surface of a rotating kymograph drum, before which was 
placed a screen with a slit so that only one syllable was 
visible at any time. Various conditions of rhythm, atten- 
tion, and breathing were examined, and variations were 
introduced in the methods of learning and relearning. 

1 Experimentelle Beitrage zur Lehre des Gedachtnisses. Zsch. f. 
PsychoL, 6. 


In 1894 JOHN A, BERGSTROM studied the relation of 
interference to the practice effect of associations. 1 The 
material in this experiment consisted of picture-cards, 
which were to be dealt into piles, each pile to contain 
cards bearing the same picture. He found that the in- 
crease of strength in an association was less marked if 
other, alternative associations had recently been made 
with the same stimulus, that is, if during the practice 
period different positions were assigned to the various 
piles. The interference effect, however, wears off with 
time. The conclusion is reached that the diminished 
effect of practice is due to the persistence of the earlier 
associations and not to a fading away of the later asso- 
ciations. The nervous discharge does not drain off into 
one channel (following the all-or-none law), but tends to 
radiate out in all directions, the amount being inversely 
proportional to the resistance. 

E. A. KIRKPATRICK investigated the relative strength 
of visual, auditory, and motor material in recall, and the 
relation between associative recall and recognition. 2 The 
material used consisted of series of 30 disconnected 
words. Objects were recalled better than written names, 
and the latter better than spoken names. The power to 
recognize appeared to be nearly double that of recall. 

Another phase of this problem was attacked by ALFRED 
Josx. 8 He sought to determine whether, given a certain 
number of repetitions of the material, the associations 
are better established by performing them all at the same 
sitting or by distributing the repetitions over a number 
of days. The material consisted of nonsense syllables 
joined in series, the series being learned in various dis- 
tributions of practice time. 

Jost's results indicate that a distribution of the repeti- 

1 Amer. J. of PsychoL, 6. 

2 Experimental study of memory. PsychoL Rev., 1894, i. 

3 Die Associations festigkeit in ihrer Abhangigkeit von der Ver- 
teilung der Wiederholungen. Zsch. f. PsychoL, 1897, *4- 


tions over a lengthy period is more favorable than con- 
centrating them into one day, but that it is more eco- 
nomical to learn the material as a unit than piecemeal. 
He formulates the two following principles, which are 
known as Jost's Laws: 

1. If two associations are of equal strength but of 
different age, a fresh repetition increases the value of the 
older more than of the newer. 

2. If two associations are of equal strength but of 
different age, the older decreases less with the course of 

MARY W. CALKINS * compared the relative strength of 
frequency, vividness, and recency in promoting associa- 
tion. She found differences according as the material is 
presented through eye or ear. Using visual numerals, 
frequency predominates, while vividness and recency are 
about equal; with auditory numerals recency and fre- 
quency are most potent and in about equal degrees. 

In later experiments 2 Calkins found that in recalling 
material which has been serially presented, the first part 
of the series is most often recalled and the last part has 
some slight advantage over the middle of the series. She 
also found far less tendency than Galton had reported to 
form associations harking back to childhood experiences. 
Where Galton placed these at 39%, Calkins obtained only 
14.7% with college students and 33.4% with old and 
middle-aged persons. 

G. E. MUIXER and A. PILZECKER published in 1900 
an elaborate investigation on memory, 3 using the Eb- 
binghaus nonsense syllables. The method of right and 
wrong cases was employed, the syllables being given in 
pairs. They found that where the number of correct 

1 Association. Psychol Rev., 1894, i; 1896, 3- Association. 
Psychol. Monog. f 1896, No. 2, pt. 2. 

2 A study of immediate and delayed recall. Psychol. Rev., 1898, 5. 

3 Experimentelle Beitrage zur Lehre vom Gedachtnis. Zsch. /. 
Psychol, Ergbd. I. 


answers is equal for old associations and those recently 
learned, the reaction time is longer for the old. Their 
experiments confirm both of Jost's laws. 

The influence of simultaneous association upon the 
reproductive process and recognition was investigated in 
1910 by ERNST MEYER. 1 His experiments included 
variations in the number of repetitions of the association, 
the influence of remoteness, and the effect of retroactive 
inhibition. Meyer concludes from his results that apper- 
ception is facilitated by simultaneous association. Inci- 
dentally his results confirm Jost's law that older associa- 
tions decrease in strength less rapidly than fresh ones. 

MARK A. MAY has shown 2 that the preparatory l set ' 
of attention exerts considerable influence on the direction 
taken by association. Some factors in the set are inhibi- 
tive, others facilitative. The set may inhibit all but the 
right (or desired) association, without facilitating the 
latter. In his experiments the preparatory set shortened 
the association time on the average from 10 to 25 per 

HARVEY CARR has investigated the progress of animals 
in learning two alternative motor associations at the same 
time. 3 He placed white rats in a maze with two alterna- 
tive paths, one of which was blocked in any given trial. 
The rats formed permanent associations in the course of 
time, even with an interval of 35 seconds between suc- 
cessive trials. In a later study 4 the path chosen by the 
rat was blocked in 80% of the trials, a buzzer signal 
being given either before or after the animal discovered 
the error, or simultaneously with the discovery. It was 

1 'Ueber die Gesetze der simultanen Assoziation und das Wie- 

2 The mechanism of controlled association. Arch, of PsychoL, 
1917, No. 37- , , _ 

8 Length of time interval m successive association. Psychol. Rev., 
1919, 26. 

4 Carr and Freeman : Time relationships in the formation of asso- 
ciations. Psychol. Rev., 1919, 26. 


found after training that the rats had learned to asso- 
ciate the signal with the act of turning, even when the 
signal had hitherto been given only simultaneously with 
the turning and was now given before the animal dis- 
covered his error. Both investigations indicate a ca- 
pacity in these animals to form mutually exclusive 
associations at the same time. 

3. Reaction Time of Association 

Galton's attempt to time the associative process was 
repeated under more exact laboratory conditions by 
Wundt's pupils. 

JAMES McKEEN CATTELL carried out in the Leipzig 
laboratory in 1887 a series of experiments on the reac- 
tion time for various mental processes, including percep- 
tion, recognition, discrimination, and association. 1 In 
the association experiments the stimulus consisted of 
printed words exposed in connection with a timing ap- 
paratus. The subject pronounced the first word asso- 
ciated with the stimulus; the lip movement of the response 
marked the end of the reaction and measured the time 
automatically. The association time was found to vary 
within wide limits according to the type of association 
involved. For one subject the relation of class to member 
(e.g. river Rhine) averaged 727*; while the relation 
of whole to part where the objects were exhibited in pic- 
tures (e.g. ship sail) averaged only 358*.* In later 
experiments with untrained subjects much longer associa- 
tion times were found. 

TH. ZIEHEN in 1898 found the reaction time of chil- 
dren far longer than that of adults. 8 Moreover the 

1 Experiments on the association of ideas. Mind, 1887, 12. 
Psychometrische Untersuchungen. Philos. Studien, 1888, 3, 4. 
2 PAi7<?j. Studien, 1888, 3, 4- (See Table III, infra, p. 248.) 
3 Ueber Ideenassoziation des Kindes. ScwimL v. Abh. a, d. Geb, d, 
pad. Psychol 


time varies in children according to the kind of relation- 
ship involved; purely verbal associations are quickest 
of all. 

The reaction times of conscious associations and those 
without conscious accompaniment were investigated in 
1901 by A. MAYER and J. ORTH/ They found that 
' unconscious ' associations are quicker and occur more 

In the same year the reaction times for various parts 
of speech and verbal forms and the association of one 
part of speech with another (e.g. substantive with verb- 
infinitive) were investigated by THUMB and MARBE. 2 
The same problem was examined more precisely by 
FRIEDRICH SCHMIDT/ who found that the reaction times 
for various forms of the verb are longer than for the other 
parts of speech. 

Subsequent investigations of association time have gen- 
erally been concerned primarily with differences of indi- 
vidual types, which will be discussed presently. 4 Recently 
TOLMAN and JOHNSON 5 studied the effect of feeling tone 
on association time. They found that unpleasant words 
used as stimuli tend to lengthen the reaction, while 
pleasant verbal stimuli tend to shorten it slightly. 

4. Association and Apperception 

WILHELM WUNDT'S (1832-1920) contributions to the 
investigation of association are exceedingly important, 
but they are for the most part indirect. He set many 

qualitativen Untersuchtmg der Association. Zsch. f. 
PsychoL, 26. 

2 Experimentelle Untersuchungen iiber die psychologischen Grund- 
lagen der sprachlichen Analogiebildung. 

* Experimentelle Untersuchungen zur Associationslehre. Zsch. f. 
PsychoL , 1902, 28. 

4 Sec. 6 of this chapter. 

5 A note on association-time and feeling. Amer. J. of Psychol, 
1918, 29. 


experimental problems, which his students worked out. 
These are mentioned elsewhere in this chapter. Wundt's 
personal contributions are more difficult to estimate. In 
his monumental work, the ' Grundziige ' x he devotes most 
of the section on association to the description and dis- 
cussion of experimental results. 

A characteristic feature of his theoretical treatment is 
the distinction between association and apperceptive con- 
nection. The latter he regards as a higher sort of connec- 
tion, based upon association. In apperceptive connections 
the ' apperceptive ' function operates; a feeling of ac- 
tivity is subjectively present, and the connection is 
determined (objectively) not merely by the idea aroused, 
but by the entire previous development of consciousness. 
Wundt classifies the two types as follows: 

Associations Apperceptive Connections 
(Complex Apperceptions) 

Assimilations Synthetic Apperceptions 

Complications u Analytic Apperceptions 

Assimilative Memory Associa- Synthetic-analytic Apperceptive 

tions Processes 
Successive Memory Associations 

Apperceptive-associative Stream of Thought 

Since apperceptive connections rest on association, 
Wundt holds that all changes of ideas, so far as they are 
not due to direct sensory stimulation, depend ultimately 
upon the associative process. 2 

WALTER B. PILLSBURY in 1897 investigated experi- 
mentally the relation between association and the selec- 
tive process involved in apperception. 3 The material 
consisted of typewritten words into which misprints were 
introduced. He finds that apperception represents a 
higher intellectual stage than association; but both of 

i'Grundzuge der physiologischen Psychologic' (ist ed. 1874, 5th 
ed 1902-3). 

2 * Grundziige/ Vol. III. Section on Association. 
8 A study of apperception. Amer. /. of Psychol, 8. 


these processes are abstractions. The first concrete mani- 
festation of consciousness appears in assimilation) which 
completes the process or act of perception. Pillsbury 
concludes that many forms of intellectual connections 
which psychologists usually treat as distinct types really 
involve the same factors. Hence if the prevailing 
schemes of mental classification are to be retained, 
they must be justified on other than psychological 

WARNER FIXE distinguishes 1 between association as a 
physiological process, and apperception as a form of 
mental activity. "Physiological links cannot bind to- 
gether psychical states." 2 If we examine the two prin- 
ciples of contiguity and similarity, we find that the 
former admits of a physiological interpretation, while the 
latter does not. On the other hand, association by simi- 
larity cannot be expressed in any known terms. It is 
therefore, he concludes, due to the apperceptive function 
of consciousness. 

5. Mediate Association 

In 1889 HUGO MUNSTERBERG (1863-1916) published 
the first of a series of studies or ' Beitrage ', 3 dealing with 
various points of psychological theory on the basis of 
laboratory experiments. Miinsterberg endeavors in one 
of these papers to reduce association not merely to con- 
tiguity but to actual simultaneity. According to his view 
apperception consists of a number of simultaneous asso- 
ciations. The association of ideas is always based on 
these earlier simultaneous occurrences not upon the suc- 
cession of experiences. 

This hypothesis is supported by an experiment pub- 

associational conception of experience. Phil. Rev., 1900, 9. 
Contiguity and similarity. Ibid. 
2 Op. cit., p. 292. 
8 ' Beitrage zur experimentellen Psychologic.' 


lished later 1 in which series of letters were presented 
simultaneously and afterwards reproduced. With series 
of 7 letters the letters were always reproduced correctly 
and in the correct order. With longer series errors oc- 
curred, especially in the order. The letter-memory test 
was supplemented by an experiment in mental arithmetic. 
The errors and transpositions occurring in this work were 
more numerous, according to Miinsterberg, than would 
have occurred if it had been possible to associate the 
material successively. This raised the problem, for some 
time warmly debated, as to the existence of c mediate ' 
association, that is, whether mental data may be linked 
together through unconscious terms. 

In a later study 2 Miinsterberg finds no evidence of 
association by means of unconscious mediating terms. 
But between the onset of an external stimulus and the 
resulting central excitation there is an unconscious in- 
terval in which intensifications and inhibitions based on 
associated simultaneous excitations may be as effective 
as though they were conscious. His observations indicate 
that there is no fundamental difference between a per- 
ceptual process of this sort and its ideational reproduc- 

EDWABD W. SCRIPTURE arrived at the opposite conclu- 
sion from Miinsterberg in an investigation conducted in 
the Leipzig laboratory and published in i8gi-2. 8 Scrip- 
ture exposed series of cards, on some of which were 
printed a German word and a Japanese word in Japanese 
script. To each of these cards corresponded another card 
containing the same Japanese script and a Japanese word 
in Latin letters. The cards were shown in order, first one 
series, then the other. Afterwards one of the words in 

iDie Association successiver Vorstellungen. Zsch. f. Psychol. 

2 ' Beitrage zur exper. Psychologic,' 1892, Heft 4. 

3 Ueber den associativen Verlauf der Vorstellungen. Philos 
Studien, 7. 


Latin letters (either German or Japanese) was shown 
without the Japanese script, and the subject was in- 
structed to mention the word which occurred to him in 
association with it. In many cases the correct word of 
the other series was mentioned. Since the subjects were 
unfamiliar with the Japanese script, Scripture concludes 
that the associations are effected by means of an uncon- 
scious mediating term. He states the principle that an 
unconscious mediating element (i.e. one not perceived) 
may have sufficient strength to produce later a conscious 
recollection of the experience of which it formed part. 1 

The problem of mediate association was re-examined 
in 1894 by WILLIAM G. SMITH 2 in the Leipzig labora- 
tory. Both words and nonsense material were used, each 
single word or group of letters being shown on a separate 
card with some symbol which was to furnish the basis for 
a mediating association. The author finds no satisfactory 
evidence for mediate association in his own results, though 
admitting the possibility of the process under other ex- 
perimental conditions. 

Another investigation of the same problem was reported 
about the same time by H. C. HOWE, S one of Titchener's 
students. In this study two sorts of material were used: 
(i) auditory presentation of words associated in pairs 
with nonsense syllables; (2) visual presentation of words 
associated with colored patterns. Here again the results 
do not confirm the hypothesis of mediate associations, 
only one case being noted in 557 auditory tests and two 
or three only in 961 visual, which is well within the limits 
of chance. 

WUNDT, summing up the evidence in 1894,* accepts 

1 P. 135- 

2 ' Zur Frage der mittelbaren Association.* 
Mediate association. Mind, N. S., 3. 

8 ' Mediate ' Association. Amer. /. of PsychoL, 1894, 6. 
4 Sind die Mitglieder einer mittelbaren Association bewusst oder 
unbewusst? Philos. Stud., 10. 


the doctrine of mediate association, but concludes that the 
mediating factors are always present in consciousness 
they are always at least dimly perceived. 

GUSTAV ASCHAFFENBURG, in a series of experiments 
extending over several years, 1 finds traces of mediate 
associations, or associations in which the mediating term 
is vague and becomes conscious only later. His experi- 
ments show that associations of this type are quite rare, 

Mediate association was investigated again in 1901 by 
G. CoRDES. 2 The material consisted of cards with 
printed words. His results bring out a distinction be- 
tween (i) ideas immediately aroused and (2) ideas 
aroused through association with these. If the latter 
are complex, so that part of (i) is also part of (2), we 
have an apparently mediated association. Hence he con- 
cludes that mediate association is merely a special case 
of a two-term association. 

HENRI PBRON in 1903 reviews the previous work 
on the subject 3 and concludes that the reported experi- 
ments, which may easily be verified, seem to demonstrate 
the occurrence of mediate association. 

FRIEDRICH KIESOW, experimenting on c free ' associa- 
tions in 1905,* finds reason to believe that the mediating 
factors are not unconscious but are merely unobserved 
that is, not attended to. 

Some of the fundamental problems of association were 
re-examined experimentally in 1912 by FRANZ NAGEL. 5 
His results lead him to deny the existence of mediate 

1 Experimentelle Studien uber Association, Psychol. Arb.> 1895, 
i; 1897, 2; 1902, 4. 

2 Experimentelle Untersuchungen iiber Association. Philos. Stud., 

3 Association mediate. Rev. philos., 56. 

4 Ueber sogenannte 'frei steigende' Vorstellungen. Arch. f. d. 
ges. Psychol., 6. 

5 Experimentelle Untersuchungen uber Grundfragen der Asso- 
ziationslehre. Arch. f. d. ges. Psychol, 23. 


association. The problem is still unsettled; it seems to 
involve a question of interpreting the notion of * media- 

6. Association Tests and Mental Diagnosis 

The association of ideas found practical applications in 
abnormal psychology and criminology. Attempts were 
made to differentiate types of insanity by the types of 
association which they yield and the length of association 
time. It was further sought to determine whether an 
accused person had guilty knowledge of a crime, by the 
length of association time in the case of certain leading or 
significant words, and by the kind of associations made 
with these words as compared with the associations fol- 
lowing non-significant stimulus words. 

The first work in this direction seems to have been 
that of EMIL KRAEPELIN, who in 1883 published a paper 
on the significance of associations in mental disease. 1 
Two other early papers by Kraepelin may be referred to 
here one on lite effect of practice upon the duration of 
associations, 2 the other on the effect of drugs upon simple 
mental processes. 3 

The earliest systematic contribution to diagnostic asso- 
ciation tests seems to have been an investigation in 1900 
by ARTHUR WRESCHNER/ on the associations of a feeble- 
minded patient. 

A study of FRANCES A. KELLOR, 5 which appeared in 
1901, showed that the range of ideas in criminals is much 
smaller than in normal individuals, and that logical con- 

1 ' Experimentelle Studien tiber Associationen/ 

2 ' Ueber den Einfluss der Uebung auf die Dauer von Associa- 
tionen,' 1889. 

8 ' Ueber die Beeinflussung einfacher psychischer Vorgange durch 
einige Arzneimittel,' 1892. 

*Eine experimentelle Studie iiber die Association in einem Falle 
von Idiotic. Allg. Zsch. /. Psychiat., 57. 

5 The association of ideas. Fed. Sem. t 8. 


nections are less frequent. W. VON BECHTEREW reported 
in 1903 certain experiments on criminals. 1 

The diagnostic value of association in cases of mental 
disorder was examined exhaustively in a series of re- 
searches by C. G. JUNG and his co-workers, E. BLEULER, 
FR. RICKXIN, and others. 2 Jung and Ricklin first studied 
the normal course of association, determining the relative 
number of associations of each type, the tendency to 
perseveration (repetition of the same association), ego- 
centric tendencies, predilection for certain grammatical 
forms, etc. These normal results were compared by 
WEHRLIN with the associations of imbeciles and idiots, 
which were found to consist in the main of very rudi- 
mentary and primitive types. Many associations were 
merely crude illustrations or cases of far-fetched super- 

Jung examined an epileptic and found his associations 
similar in some points to the normal, in others to the 
subnormal type. In normal individuals it was found 
that the quality of the stimulus word exerts a marked 
influence upon the reaction time of association. Words 
which arouse an intensive feeling-tone in the subject re- 
quire a longer time to complete the association. 

A later paper of the series discusses the relation of 
the association process to consciousness. Bleuler insists 
upon the importance of subconsciousness in mental life. 
The study of unconscious processes he asserts to be espe- 
cially useful in psychopathology, where they indicate 
symptoms of a fundamental character. Most brain 
processes, he says, are void of consciousness. Only those 
attain consciousness which are functionally connected 
(associated) with the Self. 8 

1 Experimentell-psychologische Untersuchung von Verbrecher. /. 
/. PsychoL u. NeuroL, 2. 

* Diagnostische Associationsstudien. /. /. PsychoL u. NeuroL, 
1904, 3, 4; 1905, 5. 6: I9p6, 7, 8; 1907, 9, 10, n; 1910, 16. 

3 A general summary in English of this work is given by Jung in 
Amer. /. of PsychoL, 1910, 21. 


The diagnosis of specific situations by association tests 
was investigated by MAX WERTHEiMER 1 in 1904 and 
1905. The problem was to determine experimentally, if 
possible, whether a certain fact is known or unknown to 
the individual examined. Supposing, for instance, that a 
burglary has been committed and several suspected per- 
sons are apprehended, can we determine by differences in 
their associative reactions which of them possess informa- 
tion vitally connected with the crime such as the interior 
arrangement of the building, or known details of the 

In the experiment certain of the subjects were shown 
a picture representing the locality of the ' crime.' They 
were told to examine the picture carefully, familiarize 
themselves with it, and in the ensuing association tests 
to endeavor to conceal their knowledge of the scene. A 
second group of subjects were similarly treated with 
another scene radically different from the first. The test 
consisted of (i) a series of non-significant stimulus words, 
(2) a series significant of that one of the two scenes with 
which the subject was not acquainted, (3) a series sig- 
nificant of the scene which the subject had studied, 
(4) another c normal ' series. The words used in series 2 
with one group of subjects were used in series 3 with 
the other group, so that in every case the words sig- 
nificant of the knowledge which it was sought to conceal 
followed those pertaining to the unknown scene. In this 
way the ' unknown ' and * known ' associations of the two 
groups of subjects were open to mutual comparison. The 
associations were free; the stimulus words were printed 
on cards and given short exposures, the association times 
being measured with a Hipp chronoscope. 

The results for 6 subjects showed in every case a longer 

1 Psychologische Tatbestandsdiagnostik. (With J. Klein.) Arch, 
f. Kriminalantihrop., 1904, 15. 

Experimentelle Untersuchungen zur Tatbestandsdiagnostik. Arch. 
f. d. ges, Psychol, 1905, 6. 


reaction time for the * known ' than for the ' unknown ' 
material the difference in 3 subjects amounting to nearly 
50%. The associated words also showed characteristic 
differences. In the series containing significant words 
there were more frequently meaningless associations, per- 
severations, and significant responses to non-significant 
stimulus words. 

Numerous investigations have since been made on the 
diagnostic significance of association. W. STERN pub- 
lished a series of papers x by himself and his pupils on 
the psychology of testimony. YERKES and BERRY, ex- 
perimenting in the Harvard laboratory/ found a marked 
shortening of reaction time for 'significant' stimulus 

In 1909 A. WIMMER sought to differentiate feeble- 
minded from normal children on the basis of the type of 
their associative responses. 3 He found that among 
normal children the characteristic types of response are 
concrete images and memories, while among the feeble- 
minded responses of the memory type rarely appear and 
those of the indeterminate or symbolic type are most 

R. R. RUSK* confirms Wreschner's findings that the 
speed of association bears no relation to age and has little 
value as a criterion of intelligence. He finds, however, 
that the degree of perseveration, or persistent repetition 
of the same response, varies inversely with age and also 
with intelligence. 

A standardized test for differentiating the insane from 
the normal was devised in 1910 by KENT and RosANOFF. 6 

1 ' Beitrage zur Psychologic der Aussage, 9 1903-6. 

2 Association reaction method of mental diagnosis. Amer. /. of 
PsychoL, 1909, 20. 

3 Ueber Assoziationsuntersuchungen besonders schwachsinniger 
Kinder. Monat. f. Psychiat. u. NeuroL, 25. 

4 Experiments on mental association in children. Brit. J. of 
Psychol, 3. 

5 Study of association in insanity. Amer. J. of Insan., 67. 


It consists of 100 selected stimulus words. Applying the 
test they found that normal subjects tend to give one or 
other of a small group of common reactions. In some 
cases insane patients gave 50% of individual responses. 
The total results showed an average of 6.8% individual 
results for normal persons and 26.8% for the insane. 

The same problem was taken up in 1911 by LAY and 
MENZERATH, 1 who found characteristic differences in the 
associative responses for each psychopathic type. 

The Kent-Rosanoff test-words have been used in many 
investigations. EASTMAN and ROSANOFF applied them to 
the diagnosis of mental retardation/ and found that the 
responses of the feeble-minded are characterized espe- 
cially by ( i ) frequent failures to give any reaction what- 
ever; (2) an excess of non-specific reactions; (3) preva- 
lence of certain types of individual reactions. The 
ROSANOFFS 3 later applied the same tests to normal chil- 
dren, who were found to have more individual reactions 
than adults and more failures to react at all. They con- 
clude that a definite correlation exists between association 
and mental capacity. These results have been confirmed 
by WOODROW and LOWELL.* Finally, MITCHELL and the 
ROSANOFFS 5 compared the types of reactions in negro and 
white children and noted in the negroes a further depar- 
ture from the (white) adult standard than among white 

F. LYMAN WELLS used the Kent-Rosanoff tests in 
examining the general characteristics of free associations. 6 

1 ' L'etude experimentale de Tassociation des idees dans les 
maladies xnentales.' 

2 Association in feeble-minded and delinquent children. Amer. J. 
of Insan. f 1912, 69. 

8 A study of association in children. Psychol. Rev., 1913, 20. 

* Children's association frequency tables. Psychol. Monog., 1917 
(No. 97). 

5 A study of association in negro children. Psychol. Rev., 1919, 

6 Articles in Psychol. Rev., 1911, 1912, 1919 (see Bibliography, 
pp. 316-17). 


He found that a certain range of reaction time appears 
typical of any given individual. His normal subjects 
showed two contrasted types of temperament, distin- 
guished by marked differences in reaction. He found also 
characteristic differences among psychotic patients. 

The Kent-Rosanoff tests have been extended by WOOD- 
WORTH and WELLS. 1 A number of other association 
tests either new or elaborated are reported in the same 
monograph. Among them are cancellation tests, addition 
tests, subtraction tests, opposites tests, and directions 

MABEL V. LORING carried out an investigation 2 on 
types of response with a list of 10,888 stimulus words of 
various lengths and including various parts of speech. 
She found that in English the adjective-noun association 
gives a shorter reaction time than the noun-adjective; the 
time increases with length of stimulus word. 

H. HUBER 3 compared the responses of educated with 
those of uneducated persons, and men with women; he 
observed in each case some difference in association types. 
There are also differences according as the stimulus is 
presented visually or auditorily. 

ARTHUR H. SUTHERLAND re-examined the problem of 
medico-legal diagnosis by association in 19 13.* He ques- 
tions the diagnostic value of free association tests so far 
as they have been worked out at present. In his opinion 
the results obtained from their use should be regarded as 
suggestive but not conclusive. Failures to react are due 
to a large number of factors; sex traumata may be one 
factor, but they are not the source of variability. More 
valuable for practical purposes than single reactions, he 
believes, is the study of association trains. 

Association tests. Psychol Monog., 1911 (No. 57). 
2 Methods of studying controlled word associations. PsychobioL, 
1918, i. 

tyiu, A. 

*7. /. Psychol. . NeuroL, 1918, 23. 
4 'Critique of word association react! 



A similar conclusion is reached by H. W. CRANE/ 
who re-examined the applications of the association-time 
method to the determination of guilty knowledge of 
crimes. His results, based on an extensive research, are 
wholly negative. 

7. Miscellaneous Investigations 

E. TANZI reported 2 in 1888 some instances of asso- 
ciation occurring within his own experience, which led 
him to accept the traditional association view. He fol- 
lows James Mill in reducing mental data to sensation 
plus association. 

In the same year the problem of mental synthesis was 
examined by FR. PAULHAN. S In every compound mental 
state there is something which is lacking in its elements 
namely, the order of these elements, their mutual rela- 
tions, and the general results which follow from these 
relations. Neither similarity nor contiguity can explain 
mental activity. The association doctrine, therefore, is 
insufficient to explain the growth of mind; it must be 
supplemented by a more fundamental process-organiza- 
tion. The law of system or orderly synthesis, according 
to Paulhan, is a primary factor in mental development. 

In 1889 J. ANDRADE examined the role of association 
in the formation of abstract ideas.* He concludes that 
the underlying concepts of mechanics are built up by 
association of ideas; but once formed, these ideas go 
beyond their subjective origin and become the foundation 
of metaphysics. 

ROBERT ARDIGO, following Tanzi, treats association as 

*A study in association reaction and reaction results. Psychol. 
Monog., 1915, 18 (No. 80). 

2 ' Intorno aH'associazione delle idee. Rlv. di filos. scient*, 7. 

a L'associationisme et la synthese psychique. Rev. philos., 25. 

* Du role de 1'association des idees dans la formation des concepts 
ine'taphysiques du mecanisme. Rev. de met., 7. 


a species of physiological process. 1 Mental dynamics is 
the source of the association of ideas. No sensation or 
representation is simple and lasting. All representations 
are constantly undergoing change. The associative 
process has three modes: (i) A sense of need which 
may result in voluntary satisfaction. (2) A physiological 
operation which leads to satisfaction without voluntary 
activity. (3) A morbid persistency or tension which 
leads to activity. Ardigo emphasizes the active factor in 
association. Integration is regarded as merely a by- 
product of the operation. 

The experimental investigation of association was 
inaugurated in France by B. BOURDON. In a preliminary 
discussion 2 he points out that the classical theories of 
association have relied too much upon subjective 
analyses; psychologists have not sufficiently examined 
the nature of the association phenomenon itself. He sug- 
gests the term socidtS des phenomknes, which emphasizes 
the English use of the word 'association' in the so- 
ciological sense. A society, or social grouping, depends 
upon resemblance; the most important sort of similarity 
in the social realm is similarity in quality. 

Bourdon followed this in 1893 with an elaborate ex- 
perimental investigation, 8 which seems to have been 
planned independently of the researches mentioned in 
earlier sections of ibis chapter; Using the method of 
free association, a word was pronounced by the experi- 
menter and the successively aroused associations were 
recorded. The results were examined with a view to de- 
termining the relative frequency of different kinds of 
association, the degree of persistence (perseveration) of 

sforzo associative e la dinamica mentale. Riv. di filos. 
scient., 1889, 8. 

2 Les resultats des theories contemporaines sur 1'association des 
idees. Rev. philos., 1891, 31. 

3 Recherches sur la succession des phenomenes psychologiques. 
Rev. philos., 35. 


specific associations, the homogeneity of the material, and 
other characteristics. In a later investigation * Bourdon 
examined the relation between recognition, discrimina- 
tion, and association, and reached the conclusion that the 
processes of recognition and association are more closely 
related to each other than either of them is related to 

While most recent discussions of association have been 
confined to cognitive material, GEORGES DUMAS applied 
the concept in 1891 to emotions. 2 Accepting the general 
view of the association school, he regards the associative 
process as a tendency rather than a dynamic factor. In 
emotional phenomena this tendency holds, though the 
relation is not of the logical or syllogistic type. 

In 1894 JOSEPH JASTROW investigated the community 
of associations among different individuals. 3 A word was 
written on the blackboard and shown to a class of stu- 
dents, who were instructed to write the first 5 words 
which occurred in association with it. Jastrow found con- 
siderable uniformity in the first association and an in- 
creasing variety in the later terms of each series. He 
found no appreciable differences in association between 
men and women, except a tendency to different types of 

THEODATE L. SMITH investigated in 1896 the influence 
of motor factors on association. 4 In one series of ex- 
periments nonsense syllables were used, but the subject 
was required to count aloud during their exposure, in 
order to eliminate contractions of throat and mouth 
muscles corresponding to the syllable. In another series 
the material consisted of the printed characters of the 
deaf-mute alphabet. Here the subject was required to 

1 Observations comparatives sur la reconnaissance, la discrimina- 
tion et I'association. Rev. philos., 1895, 40. 

2 L'association des idees dans les passions. Rev. philos., 31. 

3 Community and association of ideas. Psychol. Rev., i. 

4 On muscular memory, Amer. J. of Psychol., 7. 


reproduce the positions of the hand for each letter (so 
far as he was able) at the end of each series of 5 or 10 

No general quantitative results were obtained, but inci- 
dentally a striking fact was brought out. The nonsense 
syllables were exposed not successively but in groups of 
10, each group being exposed for 20 seconds. The subjects 
were allowed to use their own method of learning. It 
was found that those who ' studied ' each syllable before 
proceeding to the next, and perused the series through 
only once, were freer from errors than those who read the 
series through several times, the errors increasing with 
the number of * perusals/ 

Reference should be made here to WILFRED LAY'S 
monograph on ' Mental Imagery/ x which emphasizes the 
role of association in arousing images. Also to an inci- 
dental result of CALKINS'S investigation, 2 which indicates 
a tendency of the mind to group unconnected stimuli in 
one way or another. " Fully three-tenths of the images 
[obtained in the experiments] are fairly forced into some 
sort of relation." 8 

In 1900 E. HALEVY,* using the a priori method of 
analysis, compared the sensationistic and intellectualistic 
interpretations of psychology. Associationism, the most 
widely accepted form of sensationism, is based on two 
varieties of data: (i) states of consciousness, whose ele- 
ments are sensations, and (2) the laws of association of 
ideas. These fundamental hypotheses Halevy finds to be 
mutually contradictory, which leaves the presumption in 
favor of inteUectualism. 

A monograplTBjh^jY E. TANNER 5 is of special interest 

iPsychoL Monog., 1898 (No. 7). 
2 Memory and association. Psychol. Rev. 9 1898, 5. 
8 P. 460. 

*De 1'association des idees. BibL du Congrls int. de philos., 
Sec. i. 
5 'Association of ideas/ 1900, 


as presenting the attitude of the ' functional ' psychology 
toward the association process. She regards images not 
as ' entities ' but as taking form (or growing) out of a 
shapeless mass. Association from this standpoint is not 
a joining together of static, structural data ; but a func- 
tional or formative process. 

This view was developed as the result of an elaborate 
experiment in which Miss Tanner acted as subject. She 
set out to make abstracts of the courses in her high-school 
curriculum, most of which were in branches that had not 
been studied since her school days. The material offered 
a set of data which had not been learned originally with 
any reference to the present problem, and, which were 
now revived after a lapse of several years. The nature 
of the revival and of the association process was studied 
as the experiment progressed. The results indicate that 
associations grow up gradually; in the first stage their 
character is indefinite. 

ALFRED BINET (1857-1911), on the basis of experi- 
ments performed on two children, 1 finds instances of 
sudden and complete breaks in trains of thought, which 
the laws of association do not account for. This injection 
of a new l theme ' into consciousness he believes to be 
due to an unconscious directing and organizing force in 
our mental constitution, comparable to " the vital force 
which directs the physicochemical properties, molds the 
form of beings, and guides their evolution." 2 

The associations involved in the simple arithmetical 
processes were investigated in 1906 by CHARLES E. 
BROWNE. 3 In multiplication the associations were found 
to be largely of the motor and auditory types. Subtrac- 
tion operates through the same associative laws that are 
effective in addition, which are derived in turn from the 

1 * I/etude experimentale de 1'intelligence/ 1903. 

2 P. 108. 

8 Psychology of the simple arithmetical processes. Amer. J. of 
Psychol., 17. 


conditions of counting. Division depends upon multipli- 
cation, but tends to free itself from this basis and to 
develop a specialized type of immediate association. 

ARTHUR WRESCHNER made an exhaustive experimental 
study of several problems of association during the years 
1900-1903 (published as a monograph, 1907-1909) . x He 
defines association as the causal process by which one 
experience is reproduced through another. The question 
of the relation of consciousness to association is thus 

Wreschner's experiments deal with such problems as 
(i) the influence of the form and control of the stimulus 
word upon the time of reaction, (2) individual differences 
in reaction time, (3) response by repetition of stimulus 
word and perseverative associations (repetition of earlier 
responses), (4) identical responses by different subjects, 

(5) effect of different modes of presenting the stimulus, 

(6) effects of practice on association. His results are 
too detailed to be discussed here. Wreschner's classifi- 
cation of association types is given later in this chapter. 2 

SHEPARD and FOGELSANGER s find cases of inhibited as- 
sociations which are apparently not explicable on theories 
of drainage or division of the nerve impulse. The inhibi- 
tion seems due to the mutual interference of two simul- 
taneous impulses. The authors conclude that inhibition 
is a more important factor in all association than is gen- 
erally realized. 

The phenomenon of perseveration has been re-investi- 
gated by WILLIAM S. FOSTER.* He challenges the view 
that the recurrence of a former response is due solely to 
the fact of the idea having once before been present in 
consciousness. This would imply a spontaneous recur- 

1 Die Reproduktion tind Assoziation von Vorstellungen. Zsch. f. 
Psychol, Ergbd. 3. 

2 R 2 5> . 

8 Studies in association and inhibition. Psychol. Rev., 1913, 20. 
4 On the perseverative tendency. Amer. J. of Psychol., 1914, 25. 


rence of mental content. There is, he concludes, no 
spontaneous activity in the nervous system. 

8. Laws of Association: Similarity and Contiguity 

The classic laws of similarity and contiguity have 
been submitted to experimental study. This new mode 
of treatment was forecast by WILLIAM JAMES in a critical 
and constructive article 1 published in 1880, which em- 
phasizes the physiological factor in association. James 
points out that the historic association school and the 
Herbartian movement, while differing in theoretical basis, 
agree in almost every other respect in their interpretation 
of association. Thought, according to both schools, 
works under mechanical conditions. These conditions 
determine the order in which the mental content is pre- 
sented. James himself accepts this view. He reduces 
the laws of contiguity and similarity to one: complete 
association by contiguity. The quantitative laws he in- 
creases to four: habit, recency, vividness, and emotional 
congruity. These laws explain the reason why one repre- 
sentation rather than another appears at a given time in 
consciousness. The arousal of the associated thought 
depends in every case upon the activity of adjacent nerve 
tracts. This physiological interpretation is maintained in 
James's ' Principles of Psychology/ 2 which appeared ten 
years later. 

By way of contrast may be mentioned an article by 
V. BsocHARD 3 which also appeared in 1880. Brochard 
distinguishes between two types of association: (i) Me- 
chanical connection, based upon contiguity, which is 
prevalent in animals. (2) Perception of resemblances, 
which operates only in man. 

a The association of ideas. Pop. Sci. Mo., 16. 

2Ch. 14. 

8 La loi de similarite dans 1'association des idees. Rev. philos., 9. 


JAMES WARD in his Britannica article, 1 which was 
written in 1884-5 and appeared in 1886, reduces the two 
forms of association to contiguity, since similarity means 
identical elements in different settings. The fundamental 
problem, according to Ward, is how the new complex 
of presentations was integrated in the first place. This 
integration he explains by movements of the attention, 
which depend first on intensity and finally on interest. 
Thus in the last analysis the associative process reduces 
to successive contiguity. 

Having limited the scope of association in this way, 
Ward finds the need of another term to denote the more 
fundamental operation which is traditionally known as 
association. In a later discussion 2 he proposes the term 
assimilation for this broader process. Assimilation he 
regards as the l fusing ' process which occurs in all asso- 
ciation. Assimilation may occur among presentations 
even when there is no contiguity between them when 
therefore no association can take place. 

J. MARK BALDWIN distinguished in 1889 between the 
laws and forms of association. 3 The primary law of asso- 
ciation is correlation; the secondary laws are contiguity 
and resemblance. Baldwin discusses the two forms of 
association (coexistence and succession), and finds that 
coexistence, or simultaneous occurrence, is a condition of 
the presented objects, not of the resulting experiences. 
Hence, succession is the one true form of contiguous 

ALFRED LEHMANN conducted an experimental investi- 
gation 4 in 1888-9, designed to determine whether resem- 
blance or contiguity is the real basis of association. The 
experiments were concerned with the recognition of the 
pitch of musical tones. From the results obtained he 

i Article 'Psychology/ Encyclopedia Britannica, pth ed., Vol. XX. 

2 Assimilation and association. Mind, N. S., 1893, a ; 1894, 3. 

3 * Senses and Intellect' 

4 Ueber Wiedererkennen. Philos. Stud., 5. 


concludes that contiguity is the more fundamental mode; 
resemblance furnishes only a 'formal' sort of asso- 

HAROLD HOFFDING disputes Lehmann's conclusions. 1 
Recognition, or identification of presentations, he claims, 
depends upon association by similarity. The transition 
is not through identical but through similar elements. 
The fundamental law of association is the part-whole 

CH. DUMONT seeks to reduce contiguous association to 
resemblance, and at the same time to demonstrate that 
the converse reduction is impossible. His discussion, 2 
which appeared in 1895, deals chiefly with abstract no- 
tions and relies on the method of a priori dialectics. It 
is cited by way of contrast to the empirical method which 
was gradually becoming prevalent. 

ARTHUR ALLIN, S by tie method of exclusion, makes 
contiguity the fundamental type of association. After 
an examination of perception he rejects the * recognition * 
theory of perception, which rests on association by simi- 
larity. He concludes that resemblance is not a true mode 
of association. He also denies Helmholtz's view that per- 
ception is an unconscious inference, and reduces apper- 
ception to a specialized sort of perception, which arises 
through the activity of interest, attention (Aufmerkeri), 
and observation (Bemerkeri). 

EDMOND GOBLOT* also considers contiguity the pri- 
mary form, but suggests that the term contiguity is open 
to misapprehension since it emphasizes spatial nearness. 
The fundamental fact of association, actually, is temporal 
proximity. Association by resemblance may be reduced 

iUeber Wiedererkennen, Association und psychische Activitat. 
Vjsch. f. zviss. Philos., 1889, 13 J 1890, 14. 

2 De la ressemblance et de la contiguite dans Tassociation des 
idees. Rev. de mlt., 3. 

8 * Ueber das Grundprincip der Association,' 1895, 

4 Star la theorie physiologique de rassociation. Rev. philos., 1898, 


to temporal contiguity, which suggests the possibil- 
ity of a strictly physiological explanation of associa- 

KARL DEFFNER/- a pupil and follower of Lipps, divides 
associations into two sorts: association by similarity and 
experiential (habitual) association. Association by simi- 
larity he regards as the more important type. He believes 
association to be the cause of the sequence of ideas 
not merely the manner in which they follow one another. 
It is a natural characteristic of mind to pass from one 
excitation to, a similar excitation. Thus association is 
to be interpreted as a mental power or psychical dispo- 

THEODOR ZIEHEN, on the other hand, experimenting on 
children, finds no clear evidence of association by resem- 
blance. 2 The connection is frequently through certain 
common parts of the ideas, whereupon the remainder is 
recalled through contiguity. 

EDWARD B* TITCHENER in his * Outline of Psychology,' 
published in 1896, regards the fundamental classes of 
associations as (i) simultaneous and (2) successive. The 
traditional laws of association are only forms of associa- 
tion. Actually the ideas themselves do not associate, but 
only the elementary processes of which they are com- 
posed. In his c Textbook ' 8 he points out that the ele- 
ments of a perception may never have been together in 
consciousness before, while in the case of an associated 
idea the elements have already many habitual connec- 
tions. There is no essential difference between an idea 
and an association of ideas; but practically our ideas 
come to us ready-made, while our associations may be 
frequently new. 

Of the two sorts of association Titchener considers 

1 Die Aehnlichkeitsassociation. Zsch. f. PsychoL, 1898, 18. 
2 Ueber Ideenassoziation des Kindes. Samml v. Abh. a. d. Geb 
d '/?& -PjycAoi., i8A i, pt. 6; 1900, 3, pt. 4, P. 63. 
8 Textbook of Psychology,' 1910, p. 390. 


simultaneity by far the more important. This is empha- 
sized in his statement of the general law of association: 
" Whenever a sensory or imaginal process occurs in con- 
sciousness, there are likely to appear with it (of course 
in imaginal terms) all those sensory and imaginal proc- 
esses which occurred together with it in any earlier con- 
scious present." 1 Titchener lays special emphasis on 
the functions of clearness and attention in associa- 

In a series of experiments published in igio, 2 WIL- 
HELM PETERS examined associations of similarity by 
means of reaction time, repetition of stimulus, etc. He 
finds that association according to similarity is not due 
to awareness of the similarity. It is due rather to the 
partial perseveration of the reproduced perception. This 
perseverative tendency radiates out and brings about the 
reproduction of partly similar ideas in the neighboring 
reproductive material. 

MARCEL FOUCAULT 3 investigated the problem by the 
use of both nonsense syllables and words. He reaches 
the conclusion that contiguity alone creates new associa- 
tive bonds between experiences. 

A. WoHLGEMUTH 4 objects to the employment of 
verbal material in these investigations, since it empha- 
sizes succession over simultaneity. His material consisted 
of colors and figures of different shapes. He concludes 
that all associations are due to simultaneous occurrence 
of the two experiences or simultaneity of the second ex- 
perience with the after-sensation of the earlier. The 
more the members of a group are apperceived as a whole, 
the stronger is their association with one another. 

i' Text-book/ p. 378. 

2 ' Ueber Aehnlichkeitsassociation/ 

3 Etude exper. sur 1'assoc. de reassemblance. Arch, de Psychol., 
1911, 10. 

4 Simultaneous and successive association. Brit. J. of PsychoL 



On the other hand, SVEN FROEBERG presents results x 
which indicate that simultaneity is not necessary for asso- 
ciation. An association may be formed between two 
experiences of which the first has passed out of conscious- 
ness before the second appears. 

Some slight departures from the traditional conception 
of association should be noted. HENRI PE&RON formu- 
lates a fundamental law of association, 2 in which system 
and repetition serve as criteria instead of contiguity: 
" Two states which have coexisted in consciousness so as 
to form two parts of the same systematic grouping, tend 
to attract each other, so as to form an analogous group- 
ing, whose strength is greater according as the former 
grouping was more coherent and according as these 
states have been more frequently united in the same 

W. POPPELREUTER 3 views retention as due to a series 
of registers, the first being in the receptor, the next in 
the primary center, and so on. He believes that the 
immediate basis of reproduction lies not in the sensation 
or its after-effects but in the apprehension (Auffassung) 
of these registered data. The laws of association, ac- 
cordingly, are really laws of apprehension. 

WALTER S. HUNTER* calls attention to the fact that 
association not only gives rise to ideas and images, but 
may often arouse experiences in a sensory form a phe- 
nomenon denied by earlier psychologists from Hartley 
on. He restates the principle of association as follows: 
" If A and B are experienced together in space or time, 
and if later one is experienced either in sensory or in 

1 Simultaneous vs. successive association. Psychol. Rev., 1918, 25. 

2 La conception generate de Tassociation, etc. Rev. philos., 1904, 

3 Versuch einer Revision der psychophysiologischen Leh'*e von 
der elementaren Assoziation u. Reproduktion. Monat. f. Psychiat. 
u. Neur., 1915, 37. 

* A reformulation of the law of association. Psychol. Rev. t 1917, 


imaginal form, it tends to arouse the other either in 
sensory or in imaginal form." 1 

P. Classifications of Association 

A number of schemes for classifying the various types 
of association have been suggested as a result of the 
experimental investigations of the problem. 

The earliest was published in 1883, by MARTIN 
TRAUTSCHOLDT/ a pupil of Wundt's, and has been 
adopted by the latter in successive editions of the 
c Grundziige.' (See Table I.) 

An elaboration of the historic classification, proposed 
in 1885 by R. WAHLE/ should be mentioned here, though 
not based on experimental work. He divides contiguous 
associations into six classes, with resemblance forming a 
seventh, and an eighth class (contrast) which is a mix- 
ture of the two. (Table II.) 

CATTELL and BRYANT 4 devised a scheme of classifi- 
cation in 1889, based on Cattell's experiments mentioned 
above; the authors indicate at the same time the relative 
frequency of each kind of association. (Table III.) The 
first figure in each case represents the percentage of the 
given type of association when the stimulus word is a 
concrete noun. The second figure is the percentage for 
associations where the stimuli are abstract nouns. In a 
few cases no association whatever was made, or the word 
was misunderstood, or the nature of the relation is not 
evident. It appears that concrete nouns give rise more 
frequently to objective than to logical associations 
(51: 46); while with abstract nouns logical associations 

ip. 190. 

2 Experimentelle Untersuchungen uber die Association der Vor- 
stellungen. Philos. Stud., i. 

3 Bemerkungen zur Beschreibung und Eintheilung der Ideenasso- 
ciation. Vjsch. /. zyiss. Philos., g. 

4 Mental association investigated by experiment. Mind, 14. 


I. External 

( a. Assoc. of Whole to Part 
i. Part-Whole ] b. Assoc. of Part to Whole 
A. Simultaneous J ( c. Assoc. of Parts 


^2. Assoc. of Independent Ideas 

1. Auditory Impressions jj*' jjj 

B. Successive! Special (Word Assoc.) 

2. Visual and Other Sense j a. In Original Order 

Impressions ( b. In Altered Order 

II. Internal 

o j* ^ A c t. A' **^ 5 a - Assoc. of More General 

1. Superordmation and Subordination -j b Assoc of More Spcdfic 

r j- * 5 a. Assoc. of Similar Impressions 

2. ^ooramation | b ASSOC. of Contrasted Impressions 

3. Relations of Dependence | p^aHty^ Purpose or End) 

TABLE II. WAHLE, 1885 2 

1. Simultaneity 5. Whole-Part Relationship 

2. Immediate Succession 6. Causality, Finality, etc. 

3. Contiguity in Space 7. Resemblance 

4. " In Same Place " 8. Contrast 

are vastly preponderant (80 : 6). Associations attached 
to proper names are much the same as associations to 
concrete nouns, while associations to verbs and adjectives 
agree substantially with associations to abstract nouns. 

Three different schemes of classification proposed in 
1892 are shown in tables IV-VL OFFNER holds that suc- 
cessive ideas actually associate, and do not require the 

1 Experimentelle Untersuchungen iiber die Association der 
Vorstellungen. Philos. Stud., i ; compare Wundt, ' Grundztige/ 5th 
ed., 1913, Vol. Ill, p. 549. 

2 Bemerkungen zur Beschreibung und Eintheilung der Ideenasso- 
ciation. Vjsch. /. wiss. Philos., 9. 



( Coordination 10-0 
A. Coexistence < Whole to Part 34-0 
f Part to Whole i-o 


I. Objective 

B. Succession 

II. Logical 

(Correlation 10-33 

I C. Specification < Specialization 19-31 
(Generalization 3-8 

D. Causation 

(Final (Forward) 13-4 
(Efficient (Backward) 1-4 


I. Assoc. of Simulta- 
^neous Ideas 

B. So-called Assoc. by] 
Similarity 1 

A. Pure Simultaneous 

a. Composite Ideas 


b. Simple Ideas 
f [Rejects] 

C. So-called Assoc. by Contrast [Rejects] 

D. Part-Whole, Subordinate-Superordinate 

[Based on Similarity] 

II. Assoc. of Successive Ideas 

presence of a mediating idea simultaneous with each of 
them. KJRAEPELIN'S scheme is based in part on work 
with abnormal subjects; CALKINS 's is based on labora- 
tory experiments upon normal subjects. 

GUSTAV ASCHAFFENBURG sought to determine the clas- 
sification of associations in connection with the experi- 
ments already described. 8 Three methods were used; 
(i) timed associations, (2) untimed, (3) successive asso- 
ciations written down by the subject. Some 4000 experi- 
ments were made on 17 persons. In addition to the 

1 Mental association investigated by experiment Mind, 14. 

2 Ueber die Grundformen der Vorstellungsverbindungen. Philos. 
Monatsh., 28. 

a Experimentelle Studien uber Association. Psychol. Arb. f 1895, 
i;i8p7, a; 1902,4. 



( i. Spatial and Temporal Coexistence 
I. External -J2. Verbal Reminiscence 
(3. Assonance 

TT T * * i J ! Coordination and Subordination 
II. Internal } 2 Pred i ca ti on 


I. Total or Concrete ( a. Without Appreciable Persistence 
Assoc. of Objects I b. With Persistence 

II. Partial Asso, of ElJ*' 
ments (Persistent) j 

Lb. Simultaneous Assoc. (Assimilation) 

[Rejects Association by Similarity] 

' internal ' associations (by similarity) and ' external ' 
associations (by contiguity and frequent repetition) 
which Trautscholdt adopted as basis of classification, 
Aschaffenburg finds two other fundamental types of re- 
sponse: (i) associations through the mere sound of the 
stimulus word, and (2) cases where the stimulus serves 
only to provoke a responsive reaction, such as a repetition 
of the stimulus word or of some previous word, or the 
production of some meaningless reaction. Associations of 
the latter class occur in less than 4% of the cases. This 
classification is shown in Table VII. 

JUNG and RICKLIN S proposed a scheme based upon 
their examination of normal and abnormal subjects, 
which Jung later revised (Tables IX A-B). The schemes 
PAUL SOLLIER are the result of their studies of the his- 

1 'Ueber die Beeinflussung einfacher psychischer Vorgange durch 
einige Arzneimittel/ ; 

2 A suggested classification of cases of association. Philos. Rev. t 
1892, i. 

Association. Psychol. Monog., 1896, No. 2. 

* Diagnostische Associationsstudien. /. /. Psychol, u. NeuroL, 



I. Immediate Association 

A. Stimulus-word Effective 
according to Meaning 

a. Internal 

!i. Coordination and Sub- 
2. Predicated Relation 
3. Causal Dependence 

f i. Spatial and Temporal 
b. External J ^ogstence 

L3. Verbal Reminiscence 

B. Stimulus-word Effective 
apart from Meaning 

c. Sound o: 

d. Mere Re- 

Completion of Words 

. Assonance and 

Rhyme Assoc. 

"r. Repetition of Stimu- 

2. Repetition of Earlier 


3. Assoc. with Earlier 


4. No Observable Con- 


II. Mediated Association 

tory of association and their critique of earlier classifi- 
cations (Tables VIII, X, XI). 

WRESCHNER, whose extensive experimental investiga- 
tions have already been referred to, 2 proposed a classifi- 
cation which shows the influence of the earlier schemes 
and is suggested by his own experiments. (Table XII.) 

WELLS'S scheme, like Kraepelin's and Jung's, is based 
to a considerable extent upon pathological material. 
(Table XIIL) 

It has been remarked by more than one writer that 
the various schemes of classification proposed appear to 
rest upon logical rather than psychological foundations. 
Those who reduce the two laws of similarity and con- 
tiguity to a single general principle of Reintegration, 
regard the so-called rational or conceptual associations 
1 op. dt. 2 p, 240. 









pj o 









v. _ 









- . 

N Cd 

1 - 








( i. Coordinator 
I. Internal \2. Predication 
(3. Causal Depe 

{i. Coexistence 
2. Identity 
3. Speech-motor Type 

f i. Completion of Word 
III. Sound Reactions { 2. Assonance 
(.3. Rhyme 

(i. Mediated Reaction 
3! ErTo 11 ^ 1688 ReaCti n 
4. Repetition of Stimulus Word 

(A. Perseverations 
D. Linguistic Relations 

TABLE IX B. JUNG, 19072 

1. Coordination 

2. Subordination and Superordination 

3. Contrast 

4. Predication: Personal Judgment (e.g., prick hurt) 

5. Ordinary Predication 

6. Relation of Verb to Subject or to Object 

7. Place, Time, Means, End, Substance, etc. 

8. Definition 

9. Coexistence 

10. Identity 

11. Verbal-motor Association 

12. Formation of Words (Compounds, etc,) 

13. Completion of a Word 

14. Assonance (Rhyming) 

15. Defective Reactions 

1 Op. cit. 

2 Associations d'idees familiales. Arch, de psychol, j. 




A. Development of a Psy % 
chophysical Disposition 

B. Recall 

fa. Fusion 

i. Development < b. Assimilation 
tc. Complication 

2. Interconnection (as System) 

3. Impulse to Pass On 

4. Disposition of the Whole as a Trace 

fa, Fusion 

1. A-Phenomenon, due ten b. Assimilation 

tc. Complication 

2. B-Phenomenon, Free Revival 


I. Constitutional 

(Static, Anatomical) 

II. Acquired (Dy- 
namic, Phys- 

'i. Motor 

2. Ccenesthetic 

3. Affective 

4. Sensitive 

5. Sensorial 

6. Representa- 

7- Ideological 

f i. Reciprocal 

A. Fixed { 2. Reversible 

L3- Irreversible 

B Evolu-/ L Crystallization 

2 -^ 111 * 
3. Dissolution 

< Psychology of association/ 

ai sur Tassociation en psychologic,' 


I. Verbal 

Auditory or Visual Similarity 

, Completion of Word 

C i. Spatial, and Whole-Part 
A. Perceptual^ 

t.2. Temporal 

II. Significant^ 

B. Conceptual < 

1. Contrast 

2. Similarity 

3. Synonym 

4. Subordination 

5. Specification 

6. Cause 

7. Effect 

8. Other Relations 

f i. Spatial or Temporal 
C. Connections-} 

L2. Predication 

III. Manifold Relations 

IV. Mediated Associations 
V. Unidentifiable 

i. Egocentric 


" a. Reactions of Modification (e.g., flower pretty) 

b. Response is Proper Noun 

c. Stimulus Interpreted as Proper Noun 

d. Response Involves Pronoun 

No Response; or Repetition of Stimulus 

2. Supraordination (Individual-Genus) 

3. Contrast 

4. Miscellaneous- 

'a. Causality 

b. By Name 

c. Coordination 

d. Subordination 

e. Coexistence 

_f. Identity (Synonyms) 

Compounding of Words 

fa. Language 
5. Speech Habits] c b ; g d 

i'd. Syntactic Changes 

1 Op. cit. 

2 A preliminary note on the categories of association reactions. 
PsychoL Rev. t 18. 



I. Simultaneous or Immediate Associations 
II. Mediated or Successive Associations 

III. Non-associative Responses (Perseverations, etc.) and Inhibi- 

as due to previous experiences involving actual contiguity. 
In other words, not merely similarity and contrast, but 
causal relations, coordination, etc., may be regarded as 
* contiguous 3 associations so far as experience is con- 
cerned. The separation of associations into corresponding 
classes is merely a classification of the relations existing 
between the objective data that are brought into associa- 
tive relation not a distinction of associative processes. 

L. DupRAT 1 declares that the categories assigned to 
association constitute a false system of classification. 
The proper scheme is etiological; it should recognize as 
causes the various currents of imagery and thoughts 
whose sources are our permanent ideo-affective disposi- 

So far as the mental process of association itself is 
concerned, we seem limited to some comparatively simple 
classification. The present writer sees no reason for 
adopting a more elaborate scheme of associative relations 
than the one offered in Table XIV. 

In this scheme only three types of association are 
recognized, the first two being the familiar forms of simul- 
taneous grouping and succession. In the third type there 
is no real association between the present stimulus and 
the response; the stimulus idea serves merely to establish 
sensory or ideational connections with some irrelevant 
idea, or to arouse some characteristic (usually egocentric) 
mental state. Failures to react (' inhibitions ') may be 
included in the third class. 

According to this interpretation the various ' logical ' 

.. * Assoc. mentale et causalite psychologique. Rev. philos., 1913, 25, 


types of association (causation, etc.) would represent 
specific attitudes of the individual, built up by repeated 
experiences on his part. The relative frequency of the 
various types of connection would measure the intellec- 
tual development of the individual in each specific type 
of thought; the reaction time of any particular type may 
be regarded as a measure of the ' immediateness * or 
' directness ' of that variety of connection. 1 

1 One line of research more or less germane to our topic has not 
been discussed in this chapter. The 'conditioned reflex* is really 
a case of motor association. Investigation of this phenomenon was 
started about 1900 by J. P. Pawlow and has been carried on by his 
pupils in Russia and by S. Morgulis, J. B. Watson, and others in 
America. In a personal letter to the writer Dr. Edwin B. Holt 
remarks that Pawlow's law of the conditioned reflex is " nothing 
but a corrected form of the physiological matter^that Hartley ^tried 
to express with the formula that when two * brain-cells ' are simul- 
taneously excited they tend to acquire an associative connection." 

The writer feels that the conditioned reflex belongs to the present 
and future of association psychology rather than to history. For a 
summary of earlier work, see Yerkes and Morgulis, Psychol. Bull., 
1909, 6, 257-273; and Morgulis, /. of Animal Beh. f 1914, 4, 362-379. 


1. The Nature of Association 

THE problem of associationism in so far as it concerns 
psychology is twofold: (i) To discover the nature of the 
association process and formulate its laws. (2) To apply 
these laws to concrete experiences in order to account for 
all varieties of mental phenomena excepting only the 
primordial data. 

Given sensations and the associative process, the asso- 
ciation psychologists sought to explain all other phe- 
nomena of consciousness as modifications of the sensations 
by the operation of association. The present chapter will 
outline the conception of the associative process as finally 
worked out by the association school. The next chapter 
will sketch the typical analysis of the association psy- 
chology in its attempt to account for mental phenomena 
according to associative principles. . 

Nature of Association. The associationists agree in 
regarding as fundamental the union or association of ex- 
periences, but they interpret in various ways the operation 
by which this union is brought about. Three radically 
different views may be distinguished, and one of these 
admits a twofold interpretation, so that four different 
conceptions of the association process are actually held; 

(1) Some writers regard association as a force operating 
upon the data and (so to speak) driving them into se- 
quences or compressing them into unitary experiences. 

(2) Others discard the notion of a force which works upon 
sensations in a physical manner, and regard association 



as a mere fact of sequence or conjunction of experiences. 
(3) Intermediate between these two extremes lies the 
view adopted by most associationists: according to this 
view association, though not a force, is nevertheless a 
directing and uniting process, (a) This process is re- 
garded by some as analogous to the mechanical type 
of grouping which occurs in physical phenomena, (b) 
Others hold that the union entails a modification of the 
constituent elements as occurs in chemical combinations; 
the process of association according to these writers in- 
volves transformation as well as union. 

i. Association as a force. Aristotle's view belongs to 
the first type. Throughout his discussion in the historic 
'De Memoria' passage 1 two terms constantly appear: 
the verb KIV&GO (to move or work or stimulate) with its 
derivatives, which applies to the antecedent state in a 
successive pair; and ylyvopoa (to be engendered or 
brought to life), which applies to the consequent. In 
this interpretation the conception of an operating force 
is implied; there is some power in the antecedent to 
arouse or revive a new state. But the consequent has 
already followed the same antecedent it is quickened 
rather than engendered. The state which is aroused is a 
past experience which has lain dormant within us; the 
force of the antecedent operates to waken this dormant 
material to bring it up into actual experience. Accord- 
ing to Aristotle's conception, then, association is a force 
inherent in mental states, which operates upon the 
quiescent remains of former experiences, stirring them 
into new life and activity. 

Hobbes is the only modern writer who adheres to this 
view. His language is remarkably similar to Aristotle's. 
The antecedent moves, in the old English sense of a motor 
force; the consequent is begotten. But the term 'be- 

1 The references in this chapter are generally cited in the pre-* 
ceding discussion and will not be repeated. 


gotten ' proves to be rather a figure of speech than a 
biological analogy, for the consequent is always some 
experience that has previously followed the antecedent 
more or less frequently, the association having originated 
at first in a succession of sensations. In several places 
Hobbes speaks of the associative process in terms which 
imply merely the fact of sequence; one idea is said to 
suggest another; the second idea follows the first. With- 
out the context this would indicate quite a different con- 
ception of the process. But in view of his language else- 
where we may conclude that he does not intend by these 
expressions to imply, like Brown for instance, the absence 
of ' force ' in the process; the ' suggestion ' or ' sequence ' 
is always to be interpreted in line with his general theory, 
which involves active ' motivation.' 

2. Association as sequence. The opposite type of 
interpretation is set forth most logically by Thomas 
Brown. Brown not only repudiates the notion that asso- 
ciation is a force: he expressly denies that there is any 
conscious union or connection between the experiences 
which follow one another. Only the fact of sequence is 
given in consciousness. One idea succeeds another be- 
cause the same ideas have previously occurred in the same 
order, and this ultimately goes back to the original 
proximity of the sensations corresponding to these ideas. 
According to this view the mind has merely the power 
to ' call up ' an idea which some time previously followed 
the idea now present; the first idea then gives place to the 
second, just as it did before. But in neither case is the 
second idea joined to the first. 

In deference to common usage Brown refers this se- 
quence to the associative power of mind; but he avoids 
using the term association as far as possible, because this 
would imply a union between the mental states, which he 
expressly denies. The term suggestion, which lacks this 
implication, is preferred by Brown and is more frequently 


employed in his writings. Brown makes no attempt to 
explain the process of suggestion on physiological 
grounds, his view being apparently that mental habit 
alone determines the direction of the flow of thought. 
That is, the only mental power involved in suggestion is 
the power of habit. The frequent repetition of any given 
succession, a-b y makes it easier for the mind to pass from 
a to b than from a to c, if the latter sequence has oc- 
curred less frequently in the past. Brown's zeal for a 
purely introspective psychology will not permit him to 
go beyond this in his search for causes. 

Brown stands practically alone in this interpretation of 
the associative process. Other writers who use the term 
suggestion either regard it as synonymous with associa- 
tion or restrict it to a subsidiary kind of succession. 
Thus Berkeley admits that one idea may ' suggest ' 
another owing merely to their prior coexistence that is, 
apart from any similarity or other e necessary connection ' 
between them. In the main, however, Berkeley attributes 
association to some perceived connection between ideas; 
special stress is laid in his psychology on the unitary com- 
bination of simultaneous experiences. Tucker also uses 
the term suggestion in describing the steps of successive 
association, but he regards the succession of ideas as an 
active process, and in discussing simultaneous association 
he holds that an actual transformation of material is 
brought about. 

3. Association as a process. The great majority of 
writers on association adopt a view intermediate between 
the two extremes held by Hobbes and Brown. They 
maintain that the succession and simultaneous appear- 
ance of mental data actually involve a union of some sort, 
but they do not believe in the existence of a potent force 
in consciousness which effects the synthesis. Thus Hume 
calls the associative process a * gentle force ' within the 
ideas themselves, which commonly brings about their 


union but which does not always prevail. He seems to 
regard it as a principle of attraction rather than a force. 
By this means thoughts are bound together, imagination 
joins together elements which were originally distinct, and 
sense impressions are grouped together into unitary expe- 

Locke regards some ideas as naturally connected, 
others as connected by chance or custom, still others as 
capable of combining together into a compound idea. 
Here the emphasis is upon the capacity of the elements 
themselves to combine, not upon a potent force distinct 
from the elements. According to Berkeley, as we have 
seen, ideas are combined together; one idea suggests 
another which is habitually connected with it. Gay as- 
serts that moral acts have commonly an element of 
pleasure or pain annexed to them, and that they become 
inseparably united with these affective experiences. 
Among the French writers, Condillac, Bonnet, and 
Destutt de Tracy regard association as an operation or 

None of the analyses prior to Hartley's attempted to 
picture very definitely the nature of the associative union. 
Hartley's theory of correspondence or parallelism between 
mental and physical phenomena led to more precise state- 
ments concerning the effect of the associative process on 
the mental data. 

In consequence of Hartley's attempt to correlate mental 
and physical phenomena, two opposite interpretations of 
the associative process arose, which follow the analogy 
of physics and chemistry respectively. 

a. Association as a 'mechanical 9 process. Hartley's 
position is exceptional. His general attitude is parallel- 
istic. He conceives association to be a general process 
which extends to muscular movements as well as ideas 
and sensations. Nevertheless he uses the physical 
analogy rather than the chemical: the product of asso- 


ciation is a ' cluster ' of elements; the complex experience 
which results from association, however closely consoli- 
dated it be, is always resolvable into its original elements. 
He does not assume that a transformation takes place 
in the data as a result of the synthesis. 

Among later psychologists James Mill is the foremost 
exponent of the mechanical conception of association. 
According to him the qualitative changes resulting from 
the synthetic process are only apparent; in reality the 
elements remain unaltered, however complex their group- 
ing. The associative union may be so strong as to be 
practically indissoluble. But it is analogous to the ce- 
menting together of material substances. The original 
data maintain their identity; in thinking, the mind passes 
over .the entire series, though often so rapidly that many 
of the constituents are not recognized. The act of asso- 
ciation involves cohesion and compression, but not 

Bain and Spencer are able to avoid the question of 
qualitative change, since they confine association prac- 
tically to the succession of experiences. The problem of 
transformation arises only in the synthesis of simul- 
taneous data. Where one experience succeeds another 
the two are not synthesized into a complex unit. If a 
series of stimuli follow one another very rapidly (as in 
Spencer's notion of elementary 'nervous shocks') they 
may be regarded as forming one complex stimulus rather 
than a successive series. The origin of qualitative dif- 
ferences between experiences in such cases is part of the 
general problem of the c quality * attribute of conscious- 
ness; it is not a result of mental association. Thus while 
neither Bain nor Spencer insist on the mechanical inter- 
pretation of the associative process, we may class their 
theories along with James Mill's. All three regard asso- 
ciation as an active process, which unites elementary data 
without transforming them. 


b. Association as a 'transforming' process. Tucker 
was the first to call attention explicitly to the transfor- 
mation which the elementary data of experience undergo 
in the process of association. In certain kinds of compo- 
sition of mental data the elements coalesce, melt together, 
fuse. The compound is a ' new stock '; it may have prop- 
erties which do not belong to the parts singly. If any of 
its elements drop out the cluster or train thereby becomes 
still further modified. The scope of transformation is 
thus far-reaching. It affects all experiences in the adult 
human being. 

Brown adopts this conception and elaborates it. He 
attributes the complexity of experience to a " spontaneous 
chemistry of mind." As a result of the transformation 
which takes place during grouping, our compound experi- 
ences often bear little resemblance to their constituents. 
As we have seen, Brown refuses to consider successive 
association as a process of either the physical or chemical 
type. Owing to his rejection of physiological inquiry his 
conception of the associative process belongs in a class 
by itself. At the same time his analysis played a promi- 
nent part in developing the theory of c mental chemistry.' 

To the younger Mill belongs the credit of incorporating 
the doctrine of mental chemistry, or qualitative transfor- 
mation, into the ' orthodox ' association psychology. J. S. 
Mill views association as a generating process, whereby 
one idea brings another into being, and a group of ele- 
mentary experiences, joined together, are melted or fused 
into a compound state which is qualitatively different 
from its constituents. His exposition of the ' chemical ' 
interpretation of association is perhaps the best statement 
of this view. 

Lewes adopts substantially the same standpoint. He 
speaks of the coalescence, blending, and fusion of ele- 
ments in the associative complex. He regards the result 
of simultaneous association as a resultant or emergent, 


which is qualitatively unlike the elements. Among the 
French associationists Taine may be cited as an adherent 
of the view. 

Typical interpretation. All four interpretations of the 
associative process manifest the spirit of empiricism and 
are reconcilable with the association psychology, but the 
first two are least characteristic. The crude conception 
that an external force binds experiences together is con- 
fined to the earlier stages of the analysis, while Brown's 
categorical denial of the associative nexus arises from his 
indisposition to take account of the physiological proc- 
esses which accompany consciousness an attitude in 
which he stands alone; 

The two views which interpret association as a mental 
process are most typical of the school. In the act of 
c associative synthesis/ elementary mental data combine 
or coalesce into complex experiences. According to cer- 
tain writers, this coalescence is a mere grouping, in which 
the constituents remain unaltered though so closely bound 
together that often they cannot be detached save by the 
greatest effort. The complex unity is so condensed, so 
syncopated, that its parts are indistinguishable and the 
whole may appear to be qualitatively different from its 
elements. According to others, coalescence involves an 
actual transformation of the elements. They melt to- 
gether or fuse; they become transformed. The compound 
experiences, like the products of chemical synthesis, take 
on new qualities which are not present in the elements. 
These two standpoints are quite antagonistic. One fol- 
lows the c mechanical/ the other the ' chemical ' analogy. 
Neither is more typical of the association movement than 
the other. But the * chemical ' interpretation seems to 
furnish a more adequate account of the qualitative dif- 
ferences actually observed in experience. 1 

1 It is also not incompatible with the general system of any asso- 
ciationist, except James Mill. 


2. Role of the Nervous System 

The Nature of Mind. The relation of neural processes 
to the act of association is variously interpreted by asso- 
ciationists according to their different theories of the 
nature of mind. It is by no means easy to understand 
the views of the earlier writers, owing to their constant 
use of figurative language and physical analogies. These 
pictures doubtless served to enlighten their contempo- 
raries; but it is difficult to translate them into modern 
terms without suggesting anachronistic interpretations 
based upon recent scientific discoveries. 

Mind was generally regarded as a substance. Priestley 
identified it with material substance, while Berkeley went 
to the other extreme and reduced matter to mental sub- 
stance. With these exceptions the associationists hold 
that mind is something ' substantial ' though distinct from 
material substance. Yet their analogies are drawn for the 
most part from the world of matter. Locke's famous allu- 
sion to the tabula rasa irresistibly suggests a wax tablet 
or stencil on which impressions are permanently traced. 
Similarly Descartes, from another point of view, likens 
the memory traces to creases in a sheet of paper which 
has been folded in certain places. 

These expressions need not be regarded as anything 
more than metaphor. The writers of that period seem 
really to consider the mind as something entirely dif- 
ferent from wax or paper, which merely served to illus- 
trate its properties; they may even have held that mental 
substance resembles material substance only in the ca- 
pacity to retain or register permanent impressions. There 
is, indeed, good evidence for this interpretation. The 
writers of the i7th and i8th centuries generally regard 
extension, impenetrability, resistance, etc., as distinctively 
characteristic of matter. According to their view these 
qualities are wholly absent from mental substance. The 


corresponding differential character of mental substance 
is thought. Even Hartley, despite his insistence on 
neural vibrations, made no attempt to reduce sensations 
to phenomena of motor activity. 

Physiological Basis of Association. The relation be- 
tween mental and material phenomena was conceived in 
many ways, which may be grouped under three general 
attitudes: (i) Brown ignores the question altogether. He 
is interested solely in the interrelations of mental facts, 
and refuses to consider their physical basis or correlate. 
Similarly, Berkeley, going to the extreme of identifying 
the physical with the mental, finds no problem of relation- 
ship to solve; and Priestley, taking the opposite extreme 
of materialism, is in much the same situation. None of 
these writers is concerned with the physiological con- 
comitants of association. They represent widely different 
metaphysical standpoints, but psychologically they be- 
long in the same class. 

(2) Other writers, especially in the earlier period^ as- 
sume that a definite relationship of some sort exists 
between the two ' substances, 1 but do not attempt to 
determine the character of this relationship precisely. 
Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, for example, all 
distinguish between the stimulus and neural processes on 
the one hand and the mental or inner states on the other; 
but they pass directly from one to the other without 
explaining the nature of the transition. 

(3) Later writers not only assume a correspondence, 
but attempt to explain the relationship generally in one 
of two ways parallelism or interactionism. According 
to the parallelistic view, of which Hartley is the most 
logical exponent, the two series of phenomena, the mental 
and physical, proceed simultaneously in corresponding 
phases, but do not exert any influence upon one another. 
According to the interaction view, physiological phe- 
nomena actually produce the states of consciousness, and 


certain phases of consciousness namely, acts of volition 
produce changes in the motor nerves and muscles. 
Bain is the typical exponent of this view. He emphasizes 
not only the neural accompaniment of conscious states, 
but the motor impulse resulting from consciousness. The 
reaction process consists of a sensory nerve impulse which 
determines the conscious state, the latter in turn deter- 
mining the motor activity. 

We should note that the line of demarcation between 
the ' mechanical ' and c chemical ' interpretations of asso- 
ciation corresponds rather closely to that between the 
interaction and parallelistic theories. 

(a) Those who regard mental phenomena as causally 
initiated by physical and physiological activity usually 
interpret the association of mental material as depending 
directly on the relations and connections of physical 
phenomena. Since physical particles group themselves 
together in various forms without undergoing any real 
qualitative change, it is assumed that the resultant mental 
elements act in the same way. The apparent qualitative 
changes in experiences due to association are only ap- 
parent; they disappear under close analysis, just as the 
apparent changes which take place in physical particles 
when these are grouped together disappear if viewed 
under the microscope. 

(b) On the other hand, those who regard physical and 
mental as two parallel series, or as two different aspects 
of the same phenomena, are inclined to treat the union 
of mental facts as an event sui generis. While admitting 
that a certain correspondence exists between physical 
relationship and mental association, they insist that 
mental synthesis, like every other primitive mental datum, 
can only be described in psychological terms. According 
to this view mental association involves the direct rela- 
tion of one experience to another. It is an operation in 
which the mental material alone is concerned; or at least 


it admits of description in subjective terms. Hence, a 
parallelistic or double-aspect interpretation of the mind- 
body relation almost inevitably postulates some sort of 
transformation of the material as an outcome of the syn- 
thesis, in order to account for the qualitative differences 
actually observed in consciousness. 1 

It would not be correct to assert that all writers who 
accept the notion of transformation are parallelists or 
adherents of the double-aspect view, nor that all who 
reject the notion of transformation are interactionists. 
Often the relation between mind and matter is not stated 
with sufficient precision in some cases it is not analyzed 
clearly enough to be correlated with the given explana- 
tion of the associative process. But the general trend is 
toward this pairing of standpoints: interactionism with 
mechanical union of the associated mental material, and 
parallelism with transformation of associated mental data. 

While parallelism and interactionism represent two 
radically distinct philosophic positions, the problem which 
they raise is of little importance for psychological analysis 
except in the way just indicated, namely, to distinguish 
between the ' grouping' and * transformation ' concep- 
tions of association. Whether or not a causal relation 
exists between neural processes and conscious experiences, 
it is on all sides admitted that the two proceed pari passu 
that changes in the one are accompanied by changes in 
the other, either simultaneously or alternately. The im- 
portant problem for psychological analysis is to discover 
what sort of physical events in other words, what 
sort of physiological processes correspond to mental 
processes, especially in sensation and association. 

The associationists generally, beginning with Hartley, 
describe the brain activity which accompanies or precedes 

^This is the present writer's view. The reader should guard 
against possible unconscious bias in the historical interpretation 
given here. 


sensation as a vibration or current of some sort either 
physical, or chemical, or electrical. The neural process 
corresponding to mental association is interpreted as a 
combination effect of these currents. Hartley's explana- 
tion was precise and thorough-going, but the science of 
physiology was still in a rudimentary stage and his inter- 
pretation fell to pieces when subjected to criticism. There 
are no brain vibrations such as he assumed; and the in- 
tegration of nervous processes is a far more complex 
affair than he supposed. 

James Mill recognizes fully the importance of the 
neural processes for psychology, but he pays little atten- 
tion to physiological details in the 'Analysis.' The 
younger Mill merely accepts Bain's treatment. 

The two evolutionary writers, Spencer and Lewes, lay 
far more emphasis on neural activity than their 
predecessors. Spencer attempts to interpret mental 
phenomena in terms of their nervous correlate, and bases 
mental association on the process of integration which 
successive nerve impulses undergo. Spencer's view is not 
materialistic, since he does not identify the two series. 
According to him they are quantitatively but not quali- 
tatively related; they increase or decrease proportionally, 
and at the same time they manifest differences of sort. 

Lewes carries out the physiological interpretation as 
consistently as Spencer, but lays more stress on the intro- 
spective side. Where Spencer's analysis is forbiddingly 
formal and mathematical, Lewes interprets the data with 
a more sympathetic touch. The three sides of the nervous 
arc, according to Lewes, give rise respectively to an affec- 
tive process, a grouping process, and an active process; 
these correspond in consciousness to feeling, logic, and 
impulse respectively. 

Lewes's interpretation of the grouping process (asso- 
ciation) is well in line with modern theories regarding the 
nature of nervous integration; he indicates most clearly 


of all the school the neural meaning of association. Had 
Lewes lived a few years longer he might have extended 
his analysis so as to include a physiological explanation 
of the quantitative laws of association. 

Typical interpretation. Taking the association move- 
ment as a whole, we find that the physiological basis of 
association becomes interpreted more and more precisely 
with the growth of knowledge of the nervous system and 
its processes, while the attempts to explain the nature of 
consciousness or mental substance remain as vague in 
later writers as in Hobbes and Locke. Till the very close 
of the movement nerve physiology was not sufficiently 
developed to account in neurological terms for the various 
modes of association or its intensity variations. The as- 
sociationists in general conceived the mental process of 
association as depending in some way upon the conjunc- 
tion of separate nerve impulses or upon the spread of the 
nerve impulse from one region to another in the brain. 
How these complex neural processes are related to the 
mental process of association is variously interpreted. 

Physiology of Ideation. The neural basis of ideational 
states was a problem of special interest to the earlier 
associationists. From the time of Hume there were per- 
sistent efforts to explain the relation between sensation 
and ideation in physiological terms. Brown alone, the 
rigid introspectionist, held that the memory image and 
other forms of ideation are original data, that they con- 
stitute a type of experience sui generis like sensation, 
and are not reducible to the latter. According to the 
other associationists, the memory image is aroused by a 
faint re-excitation of the same neural process which 
originally aroused the corresponding sensation. Their 
conception of the nature of the physiological process 
concerned in ideation varies somewhat- 
Hartley, for example, attributes ideation to certain 
fainter vibrations which occur in the small particles of 


the brain substance, while Spencer assumes that the par- 
ticular vesicle previously stimulated in a sensory experi- 
ence is stimulated anew. In the main, however, their con- 
ceptions are substantially the same. A sensory impulse 
produces some disturbance in the brain, the effect of 
which does not disappear entirely when the neural activity 
ceases. In some way or other a trace is left in the brain 
substance, and this trace may be aroused to activity by 
some internal stimulus. The consciousness which accom- 
panies or results from this re-excitation of former traces 
is an ideational experience. Hobbes calls it a ' decaying 
sensation. 7 Later writers, on the other hand, emphasize 
the wealth of new material which such ideational expe- 
riences add to the mental life. 

The earliest form of the association problem was to 
account for the rise of memory images and their succes- 
sion. Why certain experiences are recalled, why others 
refuse to appear when desired, why a train of thought 
takes just the course it does rather than a hundred other 
possible lines these are the prominent features of the 
problem for Aristotle and his successors down to Locke, 
and even later. 

Among the psychological associationists, however, the 
emphasis is shifted to another aspect of the problem. The 
phenomenon of revival seems less important to these 
writers than the production of new and more complex 
types of experience. 

The process of 'arousing ideas/ like the process of 
' exciting sensations/ was conceived by the English school 
and their French sympathizers as intimately related to 
some definite kind of neural process. The explanation of 
the phenomenon of re-excitation became for them pri- 
marily a physiological problem. The problem of associa- 
tion, on the other hand ; was to account for the way in 
which mental data of any and every type are consolidated 
into unitary experiences or are joined into a continuous, 


unbroken chain. Granting that some neural process 
always accompanies mental association, the later associa- 
tionists were concerned chiefly with the introspective 
aspect of the associative process and the resulting mental 
data. They made little attempt to determine the precise 
nature of the physiological process which accompanies 
conscious experience. 

The typical view of the school seems to be that sensory 
excitation leaves some disposition, trace, or modification 
in the brain substance, and that upon occasion this trace, 
being stimulated in some- other way, may revive or renew 
the former process in a somewhat fainter degree. The 
connection between the inadequate ' stimulus and the re- 
vived neural process would constitute the physiological 
explanation of successive association. 

3. The Modes of Association 

In examining the characteristics of association two gen- 
eral problems appear: (i) The fundamental modes of 
association and their application to various classes of 
mental data: and (2) The associative laws, qualitative 
and quantitative, according to which new experiences 

Modes of Association: Succession and Simultaneity. 
One would expect empirical psychologists, who were seek- 
ing to account for experience in terms of elementary data, 
to recognize two modes of grouping, the successive and 
synchronous. As a matter of fact, many of the asso- 
ciationists recognize only one of these forms. 

With the exception of Aristotle the earlier writers gen- 
erally ignore simultaneous association. 1 Their attention 
is directed solely to the manner in which one experience 

1 Properly speaking this mode should be called "association of 
simultaneous impressions," and the other mode " association of suc- 
cessive impressions." The abbreviated phrases are sanctioned by 
general usage. 


gives rise to another. The fact that they did not observe 
the grouping of elements which occur simultaneously at 
a given moment indicates the superficial character of 
their analysis. These writers are interested only in ex- 
plaining the orderly succession of ideas. This is the 
chief problem of association according to Plato, the 
Stoics, Epicurus, Carneades, Augustine, Vives, and even 

Aristotle, with his usual acumen, notes the simultane- 
ous occurrence of sensations in fusion. 1 Later writers 
generally failed to notice the relation between this type 
of grouping and the successive association which they dis- 
cuss in- connection with memory. Like Aristotle, Hobbes 
lays chief emphasis on successive association, but alludes 
also to simultaneous association, which according to him 
takes place between two imaginations. 

The change of view began with Locke. Locke empha- 
sizes the synthetic union of simultaneous data, which he 
classes into two separate forms composition and juxta- 
position. He does not apply the term association to this 
process, however, but confines association to the succes- 
sion of ideas. Locke regards successive association as 
rather a casual sort of connection, whereas simultaneous 
grouping depends upon the * necessary ' connections be- 
tween ideas; hence the latter mode is far more important 
in experience than the former. Hume's problem was 
epistemological; he sought to discover the nexus between 
cause and effect in physical phenomena, and as a result 
of his analysis he reduces the causal ' bond ' to a mere 
habitual sequence of experiences. Thus for Hume the 
successive mode of association is all-important, and like 
Hobbes he makes only passing references to simultaneous 

Hartley lays equal emphasis on both modes, as does 
Berkeley. Priestley and E. Darwin also consider the two 

*In 'De Sensu/ loc. cit. 


equally important. On the other hand, the writers of 
this period who apply the associational analysis to special 
fields are inclined to lay greater emphasis on the grouping 
of coexistent elements. Tucker, for example, in attempt- 
ing to account for the moral judgment, finds it due to a 
synthesis of several elementary experiences which occur 
simultaneously, and the same is true of Alison's analysis 
of the esthetic judgment. So too Gay dwells on the 
association of pleasure and pain with simultaneous sen- 
sory data. 

Brown returns to the earlier conceptions of association, 
emphasizing almost wholly the succession of experiences. 
Relying entirely upon introspection, he is unable to ob- 
serve any uniting c bond ' between simultaneous experi- 
ences, whereas the succession of experiences is clearly 
open to observation. This is in keeping with Brown's 
rejection of the physiological basis of consciousness. 

In the later phases of associationism both simultaneous 
and successive association were duly recognized, but em- 
phasis was generally laid upon the latter. This is partly 
a matter of terminology. A number of writers expressly 
limit the term association to the successive mode and 
apply some other term to simultaneous grouping. J. S. 
Mill alone seems to give no preference to either form. 
James Mill notices both modes, but believes that succes- 
sive association occurs more frequently. Bain considers 
succession the chief form. 

According to Spencer, coexistence is the important fact 
in the physical world and serial order the prominent fea- 
ture of the psychical life. We must remember, however, 
that Spencer uses the term association in a narrow sense, 
and that he recognizes another form of connection, 
namely, relation between feelings. The latter mode in- 
cludes simultaneous complexes of mental data. 

Lewes's attitude is like Spencer's in this respect. He 
considers the serial order of experiences more important; 


but he introduces a new term, grouping, to cover the fact 
of simultaneous union. In such groupings the whole 
aggregate of simultaneous elements may act as a unit; 
and this is just what the earlier writers meant by asso- 

Among the earlier French writers the distinction be- 
tween simultaneous and successive modes of association 
was not noticed. Bonnet seems to recognize only suc- 
cession. Maine de Biran and Taine recognize both simul- 
taneous and successive association. 

Typical interpretation. If we consider the funda- 
mental conception, rather than the particular terminology 
of the various writers, we find that all the associationists 
from the time of Hartley admit the union of simultaneous 
elements in consciousness as well as the succession of 
experiences. Some of them use different terms, such as 
composition and association, or grouping and association, 
to denote the simultaneous and successive modes respec- 
tively; while others use the same term, association, to 
cover both classes of facts. The latter is quite in accord 
with the history of the term, which was originally used 
to express the fact of union rather than, any particular 
mode of union. 

There has been a tendency among recent critics of the 
association movement to restrict the school too closely 
on this point. It has been commonly assumed that pure 
associationism recognized only the successive mode of 
grouping. This error is due to taking certain writers as 
typical of the whole movement. The spirit of associa- 
tionism seems clearly to involve both modes. Mental life 
includes synthetic experiences as well as trains of experi- 
ences. The associational attempt to explain experience 
in empirical terms calls for recognition of both types of 
union. While some writers ignore one mode or the other, 
wholly or in part, a broad view of the movement will 
take account of both simultaneous and successive group- 


ing. Both are synthetic processes modes of joining 
together or associating mental data. 

Association of Sensations. Observation early indicated 
that sensations are not subject to control in the same way 
as ideas. They are not called forth c at will '; their suc- 
cession does not follow the same governing principles as 
their mental c copies.' On this account several writers 
assume that sensations are not associated together at all. 
It was clearly established that they do not follow the 
mental principles of successive association. But sensa- 
tions do coexist and the associationists are divided on the 
question of including this coexistence under the simul- 
taneous mode of mental association. 

Aristotle, we have seen, recognizes the occurrence of 
association among sensations. He holds that two sepa- 
rate simultaneous sensations are impossible, whether in 
different senses or from the same sense; where two sense 
impressions occur together they fuse (juixOfi, pixBooGiv} 
into a single unit through a unitary principle of the soul. 
Hobbes does not treat the problem at all. According to 
Locke, the mind unites ideas as they are found in nature 
and also in artificial ways. Inasmuch as he uses the term 
idea broadly to include sensations, this would seem to 
involve the perceptual unity of sensation elements as well 
as the formation of ideational complexes. Berkeley de- 
clares definitely that different sense impressions unite into 
objects, such as an apple, a book, and the like. In Hume 
we find only a passing reference to association among 
impressions; and this union he holds takes place only 
through resemblance, not through grouping of contiguous 

Hartley places the association of sensations upon 
exactly the same footing as association of ideas and asso- 
ciation of movements. Indeed, he bases association of 
ideas upon the previous association of the sensations from 
which they were originally derived. James Mill, follow- 


ing Hartley in part, holds that sensations appear in 
clusters. These clusters of sensations do not form an 
actual unity, but each cluster acts as a unit through its 
association with a name. Erasmus Darwin admits the 
association of data from the same sense and from differ- 
ent senses. While he calls the resulting experiences c ideas 
of sensation ' it is evident that the word idea is here used 
in the older meaning of ' experience.' 

On the other hand, Brown does not admit that any 
grouping of sensations occurs which is similar to the asso- 
ciation of ideas. According to Brown a sensation may 
suggest an idea, but the idea is a new fact, not a revival 
of some former sensation; he finds therefore no ground 
for attributing association of ideas to a similar associa- 
tive process among the original sensations. J. S. Mill 
agrees with Brown to the extent of regarding sensations 
and ideas as primordially different. He has nothing to 
say concerning the grouping of sensations, but considers 
association an important factor in motor phenomena. 

Bain follows Hartley in attributing association equally 
to actions, sensations, and states of feeling. According 
to Bain all intellectual processes are instances of asso- 

Spencer's analysis is especially clear on this point. He 
declares that sensations cohere with memories of ideas, 
forming unitary percepts; the external sensations in par- 
ticular become linked together into perceptual units. 

According to Lewes sensation itself is a group of neural 
tremors. These neural tremors are the simplest data of 
consciousness; all other data of consciousness are the 
result of a uniting process (' logic ') by which these neural 
tremors are grouped together into sensations, and sensa- 
tions in turn are grouped into perceptual and other com- 
plex units. 

Typical interpretations. We find, then, that most of 
the associationists, either explicitly or by implication, 


extend the associative process to sense data. This is 
somewhat obscured by their language. Some limit the 
term ' association ' to successions of experiences, or still 
more narrowly to successions of ideational data; but even 
these writers recognize for the most part that some mental 
act of synthesis takes place among sensations and that by 
this synthetic process the isolated sense impressions are 
brought together into unitary states of consciousness. 1 

As noticed earlier in this chapter, the character of this 
union is interpreted in two radically different ways. Ac- 
cording to James Mill perception is a mere juxtaposition 
of sensations; the blending is only an appearance; the 
character of the elements remains unaltered by the syn- 
thetic process. According to Tucker, Brown, J. S. Mill, 
and Lewes the process is one of actual fusion; 2 the ele- 
mentary sensations are transformed as a result of the 
union; just as in the case of chemical action the compound 
is found to possess properties or qualities which are lack- 
ing in its constituents. Either interpretation is in con- 
formity with the spirit of the association school. 8 

Other Modes: Revival and Relation. Before leaving 
the subject we should notice a classification of the modes 
of association by certain writers along different lines. 
This takes account of the apprehension of relations as 
well as objects. Brown, for example, distinguishes be- 
tween simple and relative suggestion; the latter type calls 
forth feelings of relation. For, as Brown remarks, the 
awareness of relations between things carries us one step 
beyond the awareness of related things. 

Spencer draws a somewhat different distinction, which 
is nevertheless based upon the same mental phenomenon. 

1 The synthesis of sensations is always simultaneous never suc- 
cessive. The recent extension of successive association to sensation 
by Hunter is a distinctly new departure. (See Chapter VIII, p. 246.) 

2 The concept originated with Tucker, but he did not apply it 
specifically to sensation. 

a The latter seems to accord better with the results observed in 


He finds two modes of grouping: revivability and r elated- 
ness. Certain feelings (or elementary experiences) are 
more closely related than others, and the degree of re- 
vivability of an experience is proportionate to its degree 
of relatability. The fact of relatedness itself is what 
most writers call association. 

Other writers make a similar distinction somewhere 
in the course of their analysis* The revival of simple 
sensations in the form of memories or ideas is not exactly 
the same process, they would assert, as connecting to- 
gether various clusters of elementary experiences. Thus 
we find two modes of association assumed by a number 
of associationists revival and relation a scheme which 
appears to transect the division into simultaneous and 

It is possible that closer examination would demon- 
strate these modes to be virtually the same as succession 
and simultaneity; for revival is a phenomena of succes- 
sive association, and ' relation of experiences/ where it 
differs from revival or calling up former experiences, 
seems to depend on the simultaneous occurrence of expe- 
riences that are related. Many associationists do not 
admit this correspondence between the two schemes of 
classification especially those who hold (with Spencer) 
that experiences group themselves ' chiefly in a serial 
order. On the other hand, it might be maintained by the 
adherents of simultaneous association that this mode at 
times includes both revival (memory) elements and 

Lewes's attitude seems to represent the best solution 
of the ' relation y problem along associational lines. As 
the nerve impulse irradiates from center to center it leads 
to the reinstatement of former experiences; each impulse 
may itself be complex, and this natural grouping of 
simple impulses into a complex unity depends upon the 
relations of the earlier sensory stimuli. 


While the problem of relativity is of considerable im- 
portance to philosophy, the distinction which it involves 
seems a matter of minor importance in the psychological 
analysis. Those writers who consider ideational experi- 
ences a renewal of sensations or of ideas already expe- 
rienced would regard all successive association as belong- 
ing to a single type. According to this view an idea is 
a sensory experience repeated with a lesser degree of 
intensity. The relatedness is the fact of union, whether 
that union be successive or simultaneous. 

One phase of the problem remains over, for which the 
associationists find no satisfactory solution: 1 How do 
we become aware of relations between things? Brown 
first brings out clearly the difference between awareness 
of related things and awareness of their relations; and 
Bain makes one of the chief characteristics of intellect a 
t sense of difference,' or discrimination. When two sen- 
sations, one of which is larger, brighter, louder, heavier, 
etc. than the other, occur together, the two, according to 
Bain, give rise to an appreciation of the fact of differ- 
ence. 2 Here we have a new primordial datum in the 
mental life, and its relation to the other data (sensation 
and association) is not clearly worked out by any of the 
associationist writers. Possibly a purely associational 
and psychophysical explanation might be devised to cover 
the phenomenon, just as the difference-tone in music ap- 
pears as a third element accompanying two simultaneous 
tones. Or it may be that, like the qualitative differences 
among sensations, this ' perception of difference ' is a new 
sort of fact, characteristic of consciousness. It is in any 
case a defect of the associational analysis that no definite 
solution is attempted. If the ' sense of difference ' is a 
brand-new experience, it involves a modification of asso- 

1 In the opinion of the present writer, who is otherwise most 
sympathetic to the association movement. 

2 This is apparently the basis of the view lately proposed by 
Professor Woodbridge and others, that consciousness is relative. 


ciationism. If not, the origin of discrimination should in 
some way be accounted for in empirical terms. 1 

4. The Laws of Association 

The associationists observed certain regularities in the 
succession and grouping of experiences, and on the basis 
of these uniformities they formulated their laws of asso- 
ciation. Most of these writers, however, fail to distin- 
guish clearly between the kinds of relation and the degrees 
of relationship that is, between the qualitative and the 
quantitative aspects of association. As a result two sorts 
of ' laws ' are often confused, as when J. S. Mill com- 
bines the two heterogeneous classes into a single set of 
associative principles. In reality the means of associa- 
tion and the amount of associativeness constitute quite 
separate problems. One problem is to discover what rela- 
tions exist between the data associated together; the 
second is to determine the quantitative factors which 
measure the strength of this relation. Brown and others 
after him distinguish between primary and secondary 
laws on this basis. But this does not indicate the real 
nature of the distinction. Indeed it may be questioned 
whether the so-called secondary laws are not first in im- 
portance. Recent experimental work certainly empha- 
sizes the quantitative aspect of association far more than 
the qualitative. Historically the reverse is true; the 
kinds of relationship play the more important role in the 
development of associational analysis. They were the 
first to be analyzed and became the starting-point of the 
association psychology. 

Kinds of Relation: Qualitative Laws of Association. 
Aristotle's formulation served as basis for all later 

1 The present writer would regard discrimination as a funda- 
mental 'operation' of consciousness, like sensibility, association, 
and transformation. 


analyses. Of his three relations, similarity, contrast, and 
contiguity, the first and third are accepted by a majority 
of writers. The law of contrast was recognized by a few 
of his successors, but was generally considered subordi- 
nate. In the end J. S. Mill disposed of the principle alto- 
gether by pointing out that a thing reminds us no more 
of its opposite than of any other among the many pos- 
sible alternatives. 

The relation of contiguity is divided by some writers 
into spatial coexistence and temporal succession. This 
distinction does not exactly correspond to the simultane- 
ous and successive modes of association; for it is quite 
possible to maintain that coexistent sensations are re- 
called successively or that the memories of successive sen- 
sations are grouped into an instantaneous unitary experi- 
ence. The distinction between coexisting experiences and 
successions of experiences is important for the process of 
association, but only as regards the present experience. 
The principle of contiguity seems sufficient to cover the 
relationship between present ideational experiences and 
their original sensory source. 

The Law of Contiguity is generally stated in substan- 
tially the following terms: " A sensation or idea tends to 
recall other experiences which formerly occurred in close 
proximity to it." The Law of Similarity is generally 
formulated as follows: "An experience tends to recall 
experiences which resemble it." 

/ The two relations of similarity and contiguity are 
typical of the association standpoint, and are generally 
coupled together./ Certain writers, however, emphasize 
one at the expense of the other, or reduce one to terms 
of the other. Thus Spencer makes likeness the sole basis 
of association and reduces contiguity to " likeness of rela- 
tion." More commonly, resemblance (similarity) is 
subordinated to contiguity. In particular, such writers 
as Hartley, who consider the idea a renewal of sensation, 


argue that similarity is merely the identity of certain 
elements in present and former experiences, and that what 
is renewed is certain contiguous elements from the former 
experience which do not at the outset form part of the 
present state. Thus when a perfect stranger, Jones, re- 
calls to us our friend Smith, it is because certain of 
Jones's features, movements, or other characters are 
identical with those of Smith, and the remaining char- 
acters of Smith are recalled as memory images through 
the relation of contiguity. 

Hamilton, in his ' Metaphysics ' (Lecture 31), attempts 
to reduce the relations of contiguity and resemblance to 
one principle without showing favor to either. He pro- 
pounds the general law of Redintegration (more euphoni- 
ously called Reintegration) to cover the process as a 
whole. In the same way Lewes formulates the general 
principle of Reinstatement, which implies contiguity and 
either identity or similarity. Lewes's conception of the 
relationship is appropriate for writers who emphasize the 
physiological basis. It is not a suitable term for unions 
of simultaneous sensations when these sensations are 
grouped together to form a perceptual experience. The 
latter is ' association by contiguity/ but it does not involve 
reinstatement or reintegration. 

The French writers generally recognize contiguity and 
similarity as distinct laws of association. Condillac is 
believed by Dewaule to use both principles. They are 
explicitly recognized as distinct forms by Bonnet, Mer- 
voyer, and Taine. Bonnet alone attaches greater impor- 
tance to the principle of resemblance (similarity). 

The typical standpoint of the association school would 
seem to make the relation of contiguity dominant, 
(i) Sensations tend to call up their corresponding ideas; 
and these ideas arouse certain contiguous data experi- 
ences or experience-elements which either coexisted with 
the corresponding experiences or succeeded them when 


they occurred previously. (2) Similarly, ideas which 
have been aroused through this process of association tend 
in their turn to arouse other ideational states or elements 
which coexisted with them or succeeded them in some 
prior experience. (3) Sensations which occur contigu- 
ously that is, either simultaneously or in immediate 
sequence tend to unite into single experiences or un- 
broken chains of experience. Thus the law of contiguity 
may be regarded as the basis of the association psy- 
chology in its attempt to explain the nature of complex 
experiences and account for the course taken by trains 
of thought. 

Degrees of Relation: Quantitative Laws of Associa- 
tion. As early as Aristotle the role of habit in the asso- 
ciative process was noted. From the time of Descartes 
and Hobbes nearly every writer on association emphasized 
this factor. Locke, though he gave little heed to the 
qualitative relations, attempted a searching quantitative 
analysis. He finds four factors which determine the 
degree of association: attention, repetition, habit, and the 
pleasure-pain accompaniment of the original experience. 
Hartley emphasizes the importance of frequent repetition 
in determining the actual course of association, and other 
writers of this period dwell on one or other of Locke's 

Brown was the first to distinguish clearly between the 
intensity factors and the quality factors in association. 
With his usual minuteness he formulates, under the name 
of c secondary laws/ nine principles which determine the 
degree of association. Not all of these principles are 
really independent. But at least six may be treated as 
fairly distinct factors. These are Duration, Intensity, 
Frequency, and Recency of the original impressions; Con- 
stitutional Tendencies and Present Condition of the indi- 
vidual experiencing them. 

The first four factors are concerned with specific expe- 


riences. Their laws may be stated as follows: "One 
experience tends to bring up another earlier experience 
more readily according as the latter (a) remained longer 
in consciousness [Duration], (6) was more intense 
[Intensity], (c) has occurred more frequently [Fre- 
quency], and (</) has occurred more recently [Re- 
cency] ." 

The two remaining factors are concerned with the 
experiencing individual. Their laws may be stated as 
follows: "The strength or degree of any given associa- 
tions varies (a) with the individual's constitutional tend- 
encies, and (6) with his present psychophysical condi- 

The Mills and Bain leave the individual factors out 
of account and reduce the experience factors to two 
Frequency and Intensity. There is really no great dis- 
crepancy between their view and Brown's; long duration 
is much the same as frequency of repetition; recency is 
a separate factor, but since lapse of time decreases the 
effectiveness of an impression, the recency factor may 
be grouped with intensity if we adopt a physiological 
interpretation. - 

None of these writers seem to have recognized Locke's 
pleasure-pain factor. Lewes stands alone among later 
writers in emphasizing its importance. He also renews 
Brown's reference to individual differences, maintaining 
that the direction of association depends on the indi- 
vidual's whole past. Spencer, who accepts the two laws 
of Repetition and Vividness, adds a new principle which 
he calls the law of Decreasing Gain. " An association 
gains less strength by each additional repetition." This 
is a phase of the law of Repetition (or Frequency), rather 
than a distinct principle. 

Typical interpretation. The typical attitude of the 
school toward the quantitative principles is probably that 
of Lewes, Other writers either confuse these laws with 


the qualitative (as for example, Bain), or consider them 
of secondary importance. The best interpretation of the 
' associative ' connection of experiences would regard the 
process as a spreading of consciousness to contiguous 
experiences. The important problem is: In what direc- 
tion will the spreading occur? What factors in the 
present experience or in the traces left by past experi- 
ences determine this direction? 

Four distinct factors are noted by one or other of the 
association writers: (i) Original intensity and progres- 
sive fading of intensity; (2) Repetition, including length 
of duration; (3) Hedonic accompaniment; and (4) Per- 
sonal equation of the individual, based on heredity and 
general environmental conditions. These may be grouped 
together in a single statement: The degree of potency 
of a present experience to associate with itself a former 
element of experience depends on the intensity, duration, 
and hedonic tone of that element, and on the present con- 
dition and life history of the individual under considera- 

The recent experimental investigations of association 
have confirmed the importance of original intensity and 
repetition, and tend to regard recency as a distinct factor. 

5. Typical Interpretation of the Associative Process 

We may now sum up the typical interpretation which 
the school as a whole gave to association as a mental 
phenomenon and attempt a representative formulation of 
its laws. 

The most workable view of the nature of association 
seems to be that which regards it as a process whereby 
mental phenomena combine or coalesce into more com- 
plex unities. The c mind ' is conceived as made up of a 
vast number of elementary ' impressions ' bound together 
by the process of association. 


Both the impressions and the associative relations be- 
tween them are dependent in some way upon physio- 
logical processes which occur in the nervous system. The 
nature of this psychophysical relationship is problematic; 
the most self-consistent interpretations are those which 
deny causal interaction between mind and brain-process; 
the two series are regarded as concomitant, independent, 
and yet parallel phenomena, or as two aspects of a single 
reality. 1 

The elementary impressions are of two sorts, sensa- 
tional and ideational data. Their fundamental distinction 
is based upon the character of the corresponding neural 
processes. The sensory data of experience depend upon 
stimulation of the organs of sense; the ideational data 
depend upon central excitation of the brain substance, 
ideational experience taking the same form as earlier 
sense impressions of the same regions. This act of 
' arousing ' ideas is one manifestation of the associative 

The associative act includes two distinct modes, suc- 
cessive and simultaneous grouping. The former welds 
the elementary data together into a unitary train of expe- 
riences; the latter binds them into complex unitary 
groups. The complex experiences resulting from simul- 
taneous association are qualitatively different from their 
constituents; the union is analogous to chemical com- 
bination, in which the elements lose their identity in a 
higher type of unity it involves fusion rather than mere 

Association proceeds according to two different sets of 
principles, qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative 
laws account for the kind of union which occurs in any 
given case. In the broadest sense there are twb sorts 

1 The present writer may possibly be biased in this appreciation 
of the associational position by his own view of the relationship, 
which is the ' double-aspect ' hypothesis, 


of relation, similarity and contiguity; that is, the elements 
are either similar in quality, or else they occur near to- 
gether in space or time; in the case of ideational ele- 
ments they are such as have previously been experienced 
together as sensations. Close analysis, however, reduces 
the qualitative laws to the single principle of contiguity, 
for the c similar ' experiences consist in reality of iden- 
tical elements accompanied by certain contiguous ele- 
ments which are dissimilar. 

The quantitative principles of association account for 
the selection of one rather than another of the entire set 
of possible groupings in any given case. The grouping 
depends upon (i) the original intensity and recency of 
the impression; (2) frequent repetition and length of 
duration, (3) the hedonic accompaniment of the experi- 
ence, and (4) the general heredity and life history of 
the individual. 

It will be seen from this summary that the common 
conception of associationism, and the descriptions of the 
movement given generally in our histories and encyclo- 
pedias, are defective in several respects: 

(1) The common view limits association to successive 
grouping, whereas the more representative writers of the 
school include under the term simultaneous grouping also. 

(2) There is a widespread notion that the associative 
process is limited by the English school to ideational 
elements that it accounts only for the flow of thought. 
This error is due to a confusion between the original and 
modern uses of the term 'idea.' The more typical 
writers conceive the process as including the union not 
merely of representative elements, but of sensory data as 
well; many writers extend the term (quite legitimately) 
to include motor phenomena also. 

(3) It is commonly supposed that ' pure ' association- 
ism conceived of the associative union as a mechanical 
compounding. As a matter of fact, the chemical analogy 


was accepted by many representative associationists. 
This notion enabled them to accept the evidence of intro- 
spection at its face value, and at the same time to analyze 
mental compounds into the elementary data out of which 
they are assumed to have arisen genetically* 



1. fundamental Concepts 

THE examination of the associative process was not the 
only problem of the associationists. Quite as important 
was the task of accounting for the origin of all derivative 
mental phenomena in terms of association, which was 
conceived as operating upon certain primordial data. 
This part of their analysis, in fact, represents their most 
notable contribution to psychology. 

How far the attempt was successful is a matter for 
debate. Their critics, pointing to the numerous lacunae 
in the work of individual writers, do not hesitate to pro- 
nounce the system a failure. Their defenders are few, 
and being for the most part misled by the prevailing 
misconceptions of associationism they have been unable 
to parry successfully many of the thrusts. 

The writer believes that the association psychology in 
its fundamental concepts is quite capable of defense as 
against any intuitional or nativistic system. With the 
advance of physiological and psychophysical research 
certain amendments are obviously necessary to the 
original program of the school. Association may prove 
to be not the only kind of operation on the data. Never- 
theless associationism, so far as it goes, affords a con- 
sistent interpretation of mental life. 

To support this conclusion the present chapter will 
outline a representative system of psychology carried out 
along associational lines, and based on what appears to 



be the most typical interpretation of each mental phe- 
nomenon or function. 

Elementary Data and their Relations. The elemen- 
tary datum of experience, according to the association 
school, is sensation or feeling. Sensations are due to 
stimulation of the organism by the environment. The 
evolutionists trace sensation back to a still simpler ele- 
ment an awareness which accompanies the most primi- 
tive nervous discharge. This prototype of sensation is 
too indefinite, too vaguely experienced, to be described 
precisely; Spencer regards it as a species of shock, and 
Lewes calls it a tremor terms which are highly sugges- 
tive of neural activity, and which also remind one of 
Hartley's vibration theory. None of the leaders of the 
movement, however, are materialists; they all distinguish 
the subjective experience, sensation or its simpler proto- 
type, from the accompanying neural processes. 

The associationists, like all other schools, classify sen- 
sations according to the receiving organ the eye, ear, 
skin, etc. The number of different ' senses ' or kinds of 
sensation is increased by successive associationist writers 
from the classic five to include the muscle sense, alimen- 
tary or organic sensations, and sensations of disorganiza- 
tion. The classification of sensations has no special sig- 
nificance for the association doctrine; it belongs to any 
system of psychology. But it is worth noticing that the 
empirical method of this school enabled it to break away 
from the traditional fivefold scheme, which the a priori 
school regarded as almost sacrosanct. 

In picturing the derivation of actual experience from 
the ultimate sensory datum, two fundamental facts at 
once appear which run through the entire association 
psychology; these are the Psychophysical Relation, and 

(i) The psychophysical relation. Spencer regards ex- 
perience and neural activity as two aspects of the same 


unknown reality, and many associationists hold a some- 
what similar view. But the school is not tied to any 
metaphysics. The essential characteristic of the relation 
between consciousness and neural processes is that the 
two phenomena are regarded as concomitant: the cerebral 
activity which succeeds stimulation of the sense organs 
accompanies the mental act of sensation, or gives rise to 
it immediately. The psychical and the physical are in- 
separably related. 

(2) The process or fact of association. The phe- 
nomenon of association appears almost at the very out- 
set of experience. The primitive shocks or tremors 
coalesce and form definite sensations which are the first 
actual experiences of the conscious individual. Sensations, 
in turn, combine into simultaneous groups (percepts) and 
into sequences. The resulting groups combine into higher 
complexes and trains of thought. Thus the associative 
process runs through the whole gamut of mentality. 

The two principles of Psychophysical Relation and 
Association are the instruments employed by associa- 
tional psychologists to explain, account for, derive, or 
construct the entire framework and superstructure of con- 
sciousness. Both simultaneous and successive association 
operate to build up the derivative forms of experience. 
Perception means simultaneous association; by this 
process separate sensations which occur together in con- 
sciousness are grouped into single unitary experiences. 
The underlying physiological basis of perception is the 
passage of neural energy from center to center in the 
brain. The result on the side of consciousness is a con- 
solidated experience which functions as a unit. 

Transformation. At this point, according to many of 
the associationists, a characteristic of the associative 
process appears which brings its results into closer con- 
formity with vital processes than a mechanical view of 
grouping would indicate. It was observed that the asso- 


dative union involves a certain transformation of the ma- 
terial. Just as in the act of chemical composition the 
product is qualitatively different from its constituents, so 
in mental association the elements are modified and the 
resulting complex experience becomes qualitatively unlike 
the simpler experiences which combine to form it. When 
discrete sensations are unified into a perception, a quali- 
tative change takes place in the experience; and similar 
transformations occur in passing to higher stages of com- 

Ideation. Imagery or representative experience de- 
pends on successive association. Not only do coexistent 
sensations unite, but a sensation tends to recall or revive 
other elements of experience which were formerly united 
with it. These ' revived ? experiences differ from sensa- 
tions in vividness. They are called ideas. 

Taking the school as a whole we find three slightly 
different interpretations of the ideational process. An 
idea is regarded (i) as a reappearance in consciousness 
of an enduring impression in the mental substance; (2) 
as a new state of consciousness patterned or copied after 
the original; or (3) as a renewal of the original sensation 
in fainter degree. In any case the instatement of an idea 
occurs through association with present sensations (or 
with other ideas present at the time) in accordance with 
* laws ' or relations. 

The most adequate interpretation of the mode of opera- 
tion by which ideas are produced appears to be that of 
Lewes: an ideational state is due to the stimulation oc- 
curring in some brain center and propagating out to other 
centers, where it renews the traces of a former stimula- 
tion. In other words, an idea is a modified sensation 
the difference between the two being rather in degree 
than in quality. 


2. Cognitive Experiences 

The phenomena of mental life exhibit a high degree of 
complexity. Many of the complications of experience 
are traceable to the complexity of the external world, and 
are explained as associations of sensory data. But apart 
from the differences attributable to external stimulation, 
introspection reveals other varieties of experience. 
Memory and imagination, conception and belief, feeling 
and emotion, conation and volition these and other ex- 
periences remain to be accounted for along empirical 

Adopting the notion of * mental chemistry/ or trans- 
formation, when elementary data are brought together 
into a complex experience the resulting compound is 
transformed and becomes qualitatively different from its 
constituents. According to this view a complex mental 
state does not 'consist of elements the elements 
coalesce and melt together, and certain of them actually 
disappear. The new state is, in fact, a transformation 
rather than a complication. 

Perception and Imagery. The first step in the growth 
of cognitive mental states occurs through the union of 
simultaneous sensations into single unitary experiences. 
These states are known as perceptions. They are due to 
the operation of association upon sensory data. The 
data received through different senses are combined into 
perceptions of * objects/ 

The most primitive development of c secondary ' expe- 
rience is the image, which consists of many elementary 
data formerly experienced as sensations and revived by 
direct excitation of the appropriate brain centers. The 
elementary ideational data are united into imagery expe- 
riences by simultaneous association in much the same way 
as sensations unite to form perceptions. 

The classification of imagery rests on an associative 


basis. The intermediate step between sensation and rep- 
resentation is the after-image, or after-sensation, which 
most nearly fulfills Hobbes's notion of l decaying ' sensa- 
tion. It is merely a prolongation of the sensory experi- 
ence after the stimulus has ceased. 

Besides the after-sensation there are several varieties 
of true imagery. The memory image is one in which the 
associated elements correspond in character and arrange- 
ment with those of some specific sensory (or ideational) 
experience of earlier date. When a memory image arises 
it may call forth by association a large group of related 
images, which serve to place it in a definite setting of 
time and circumstance. 

The imagination image or phantasy consists of a group 
of elements which have not been previously joined to- 
gether in the form of a perception. The rise of imagina- 
tion depends upon both successive and simultaneous asso- 
ciation. Thus, some element in a present experience may 
suggest mercury, another element of the same experience 
may suggest a lake; these two simultaneous images may 
then combine into the imagination image of a lake of 

The general image arid the free image are each a revival 
which has lost its specific associations with the group in 
which it originally occurred, so that it does not appear 
in a definite setting. It may result from frequent repe- 
tition of partly similar experiences. Where the common 
elements are joined with various alternative elements, the 
outcome is a free image, as for example of some man 
whom we have seen in many different positions and from 
different angles. When the dissimilar elements drop out 
of the complex, the result is a general image, such as 
f man.' 

Not only do sensations induce images of these various 
types by the associative process, but one image may in 
the same manner induce another. Succession of images 


is thus brought about by association a perception sug- 
gesting an image, this suggesting another, and so on. 

While imagery and sensation are distinct types, they 
may be associated together in a single experience. In 
perception, certain faint imagery elements are often 
present, as when we ' taste' the uncut orange. Less 
frequently sensory elements enter into an image experi- 
ence, as when our dream-image of a flower is tinged with 
a real sensory odor. 

Thought. In addition to perception and imagery the 
later associationists find a third type of cognitive experi- 
ence, the symbolic idea, or thought. 1 

Symbolic ideas arise originally through association of 
an arbitrary element with the sensation or image. These 
arbitrary images are the names of things, whether audi- 
tory or visual. They are signs or symbols of other expe- 
riences, and do not resemble the things which they 
represent. In course of time, through repetition and asso- 
ciation, the verbal element may become the chief factor 
in an experience, as when the name John Smith comes 
to be the local element in our thought of the man, in 
place of his features or other characteristics. In symbolic 
ideational experience or thought the characteristic ele- 
ments which form part of the original percept tend gradu- 
ally to fade away. At first the minor differentiae disap- 
pear; the same idea comes to be attached to a number 
of different but similar objects, and we think in terms of 
concepts or general ideas. Then the more prominent 
sensory marks are lost and our thoughts are mainly 
verbal, with a faint fringe of the original elements which 
constitute the ' meaning/ The entire course of develop- 
ment may be attributed to the operation of association 
and the transformations which occur in such unions. 

Concepts and judgments are special types of thought 

1 Experiences of this type are called names by James Mill and 
signs by Lewes. 


in which the associations are limited more strictly by the 
characteristics of objects and relations found in nature, 

Trains of Thought. Trains of thought, like trains of 
imagery, proceed according to the laws of successive 

Reasoning is a train of thought in which the successive 
experiences are concepts and judgments (not ordinary 
thoughts), and the successive associative steps are limited 
by objective and relational considerations. 1 

Reflection and self-consciousness are other special 
types of associative thinking, in which the experiences 
of ' self ' remain prominent through all the series of asso- 
ciations that are joined to this fundamental group. In 
thinking, reasoning, and reflecting, the subject-matter is 
symbolic. These mental processes are all successive asso- 
ciations of symbolic ideas. 

Space Perception. The perception of space, according 
to tie associational view, results from the simultaneous 
presentation of sensations belonging to the same sense. 
Such associations tend to coalesce and to act as a definite 
unit with consequent modifications of the content of 
experience, and this modification takes the form of 
1 space' in conformity with our experience of actual 
spatial relations. The space schemes of the different 
senses, being constantly associated together in percep- 
tions of objects, combine and are transformed into a gen- 
eral notion of space. 

Belief, Meaning, Value. It seems scarcely necessary 
to assume, with John Stuart Mill, a factor sui generis 
in the belief complex. This type of experience seems to 
have arisen as an evolutionary growth from certain con- 
ditions in experience. Belief is an associative reinforce- 

% a Lewes applies the term ' logic ' to all forms of successive associa- 
tion, whether involving perceptions, images, or symbolic thoughts. 
It seems preferable on historical grounds to limit the term to the 
specialized type of association which occurs in judgment and 


ment of experience through reflection; a repeated associa- 
tion of this sort (between a presentation and the affirma- 
tion of a presentation) would tend to modify the nature 
of the total experience. The modification itself is the 
belief factor in the experience. 

A similar explanation might be offered on behalf of 
associationism for the c meaning ' consciousness and 
* value ' consciousness. Meaning may be regarded as the 
' image fringe 7 which accompanies a verbal idea or 
thought; it is the remnant of the representation of the 
sensation, which has been transformed and restricted as 
a result of repeated associations till no more than a rudi- 
ment remains. So too the value experience may be inter- 
preted as that which remains of the intensity or quanti- 
tative factor in the original sensation and its image. This 
also is transformed by repeated verbal associations and 
is reduced to a mere rudiment. 

3. Conation 

Expressive Aspect of Experience. The nervous sys- 
tem serves to establish relations between the organism 
and its environment. The nervous circuit includes three 
successive processes: sensory excitation* central coordi- 
nation or integration, and motor discharge. Stimulation 
precedes this chain of neural activity, and reaction 
(movement) follows it. Each of these end-terms brings 
the organism into relation with its environment. 

Corresponding to the three phases of neural activity 
introspective analysis brings out three phases of mental 
process, which Lewes calls affection, grouping, and im- 
pulse, an analysis which agrees closely with the threefold 
classification of traditional psychology. According to 
the associational view cognition (which is essentially the 

1 Lewes calls this process stimulation. This term is applied more 
properly to the functions of the receptor organs. 


grouping process) means the association of affective ele- 
ments or feeling, and this grouping results in impulse. 
The three phases appear to be inseparably bound together 
in actual experiences, and the entire process may be 
summed up in a single concept: behavior* 

The types of experience so far mentioned involve 
chiefly the sensory and central portions of the nervous 
arc. New varieties of experience appear in connection 
with the motor discharge. We have experiences of move- 
ment, or activity, from the muscles, as the later associa- 
tionists pointed out. Some writers go further and speak 
of a c striving to expression,' a motor-innervation feeling, 
a fiat. The notion that consciousness is an active phe- 
nomenon is further emphasized when images and ideas 
are viewed as desires or as representing needs which re- 
quire satisfaction. From this standpoint mental life 
appears as a functioning activity, and the association 
psychology becomes something more than a mere analysis 
of cognition. 

Motor Consciousness. The motor aspect of mental 
life has caused recent writers considerable difficulty. It 
is not surprising, then, that the associationists who pre- 
ceded them should fail to give a very clear ac- 
count of this phenomenon. Motor consciousness has 
been treated in at least four different ways in psy- 

(i) The term occasionally denotes the motor-nerve 
impulses, muscular contractions, etc., which follow after 
the idea of action. These are purely physiological phe- 
nomena, however, and do not properly form part of the 
mental life. In spite of some ambiguity in language, 
none of the associationists seem really to have adopted 
this conception. Where the account is open to such 
interpretation there appears to be a verbal lapse of the 

1 Lewes calls this conduct; since his time the term behavior has 
been generally adopted. 


same sort as when sensations are referred to as occurring 
in the sense organs. 

(2) Motor consciousness may mean a consciousness 
of the outgo oj energy along the motor nerves. Accord- 
ing to Lewes's view some of this neural energy is reflected 
back to the brain and gives rise to the consciousness of 
impulse. This innervation theory has since been dis- 
carded by psychologists. While it is of importance his- 
torically, it forms no more essential a feature of associa- 
tionism than Hartley's vibration theory. Both are 
physiological hypotheses, and modern physiology has 
shown each to be untrue. Their abandonment in no way 
affects the associational analysis. 

(3) The term motor consciousness may be applied to 
the awareness of our movement^ and of the position of 
our members, which is derived directly from muscle sen- 
sations and indirectly from sight, contact sensations, etc., 
when we see or feel our members moving and assuming 
certain positions. The later associationists take these 
kinesthetic elements into account, though they do not 
give them the prominence accorded by more recent 
writers. 1 

(4) The motor aspect of consciousness may embrace 
the ideas and representations of acting, willing, moving, 
doing, etc., which immediately precede our motor im- 
pulses. This use of the terms seems to be included in 
Lewes's conception of c mental impulse,' though he inter- 
prets impulse largely in terms of innervation feeling. 
Motor consciousness in this sense manifests itself also 
in acts of attention and in deliberation. 2 

The associationists use three of these concepts inner- 

1 Spencer speaks of * resistance f eelings,' and Lewes mentions the 
' feeling of effort ' which is reducible to muscle sensations. 

2 The fourth interpretation of the motor consciousness seems to 
accord best with the associational analysis and would probably have 
been most strongly emphasized had the school continued to the 
present day. 


grouping process) means the association of affective ele- 
ments or feeling, and this grouping results in impulse. 
The three phases appear to be inseparably bound together 
in actual experiences, and the entire process may be 
summed up in a single concept: behavior* 

The types of experience so far mentioned involve 
chiefly the sensory and central portions of the nervous 
arc. New varieties of experience appear in connection 
with the motor discharge. We have experiences of move- 
ment, or activity, from the muscles, as the later associa- 
tionists pointed out. Some writers go further and speak 
of a ' striving to expression, 9 a motor-innervation feeling, 
a fiat. The notion that consciousness is an active phe- 
nomenon is further emphasized when images and ideas 
are viewed as desires or as representing needs which re- 
quire satisfaction. From this standpoint mental life 
appears as a functioning activity, and the association 
psychology becomes something more than a mere analysis 
of cognition. 

Motor Consciousness. The motor aspect of mental 
life has caused recent writers considerable difficulty. It 
is not surprising, then, that the associationists who pre- 
ceded them should fail to give a very clear ac- 
count of this phenomenon. Motor consciousness has 
been treated in at least four different ways in psy- 

(i) The term occasionally denotes the motor-nerve 
impulses, muscular contractions, etc., which follow after 
the idea of action. These are purely physiological phe- 
nomena, however, and do not properly form part of the 
mental life. In spite of some ambiguity in language, 
none of the associationists seem really to have adopted 
this conception. Where the account is open to such 
interpretation there appears to be a verbal lapse of the 

1 Lewes calls this conduct; since his time the term behavior has 
been generally adopted. 


same sort as when sensations are referred to as occurring 
in the sense organs. 

(2) Motor consciousness may mean a consciousness 
of the outgo of energy along the motor nerves. Accord- 
ing to Lewes's view some of this neural energy is reflected 
back to the brain and gives rise to the consciousness of 
impulse. This innervation theory has since been dis- 
carded by psychologists. While it is of importance his- 
torically, it forms no more essential a feature of associa- 
tionism than Hartley's vibration theory. Both are 
physiological hypotheses, and modern physiology has 
shown each to be untrue. Their abandonment in no way 
affects the associational analysis. 

(3) The term motor consciousness may be applied to 
the awareness of our movement^ and of the position of 
our members, which is derived directly from muscle sen- 
sations and indirectly from sight, contact sensations, etc., 
when we see or feel our members moving and assuming 
certain positions. The later associationists take these 
kinesthetic elements into account, though they do not 
give them the prominence accorded by more recent 
writers. 1 

(4) The motor aspect of consciousness may embrace 
the ideas and representations of acting, willing, moving, 
doing, etc., which immediately precede our motor im- 
pulses. This use of the terms seems to be included in 
Lewes's conception of c mental impulse,' though he inter- 
prets impulse largely in terms of innervation feeling. 
Motor consciousness in this sense manifests itself also 
in acts of attention and in deliberation. 2 

The associationists use three of these concepts inner- 

1 Spencer speaks of ' resistance feelings/ and Lewes mentions the 
' feeling of effort' which is reducible to muscle sensations. 

2 The fourth interpretation of the motor consciousness seems to 
accord best with the associational analysis and would probably have 
been most strongly emphasized had the school continued to the 
present day. 


vation feelings, kinesthetic feelings, and motor ideas. 
All these appear to be included in Lewes's notion of 

Evolution of Motor Experience. The growth in com- 
plexity of motor consciousness can scarcely be accounted 
for without constant reference to the nervous system. 
The transition from reflex to instinct, the modification 
of inherited modes of expression into habits, depend es- 
sentially upon laws of neural activity. Hence, when we 
apply the associative principle to the conscious experi- 
ences which accompany these several forms of motor 
expression, the operations of the nervous arc are essential 
factors to be considered. 

Spencer explains the consolidation of reflex action (the 
lowest form) into instinct and volition in accordance with 
his general evolution formula of increasing definiteness, 
coherence, and heterogeneity. In reflex action the asso- 
ciation of the nerve impulses is largely simultaneous, 
while in instinct it tends more to the serial form, which 
is characteristic of higher mental experience. There is 
no chasm between instinct and volition. The essential 
feature of the latter is the interval of deliberation; in 
volition the passage from representation to impulse is 
not immediate, but involves a succession of intermediate 
representations. These deliberative factors are generally 
ideas of the purpose or end in view, the means, etc. They 
follow one another according to the principles of suc- 
cessive association. 

Recent analysis distinguishes between sensorimotor and 
ideomotor experiences, or between pure conation and 
volition. In the sensorimotor type the antecedent term 
is a sensation or a perception; in the ideomotor type 
images or thoughts precede the motor experience. In 
each case, according to the associational interpretation, 
the train of experiences proceeds in accordance with the 
laws of successive association. The consolidation of the 


individual motor experiences (of whatever type) is the 
result of simultaneous associations, which occur repeat- 
edly and transform the elementary kinesthetic and other 
data into a complex product that is qualitatively new. 

A detailed examination of these processes would be out 
of place here. Research in psychology and physiology 
has advanced today far beyond the standpoint of tradi- 
tional associationism. The explanation of the motor 
aspect of consciousness demands a much deeper analysis 
than that to which it was submitted by Spencer and 
Lewes. But it should be borne in mind that their work, 
resting on a consistent associational basis, indicated the 
direction which future analyses should take. There 
seems no reason why an analysis of the larger results of 
contemporary psychology in the motor field might not 
still be carried out according to rigorous associational 

4. Affective Consciousness 

The associational analysis of affective experience is 
very imperfect. In their effort to reduce mental states 
to elementary sensations and ideas these writers have 
tended to overlook the specific characteristics of the 
hedonic components. With many of them, feeling and 
sensation are used interchangeably. 

Moreover, some of the problems connected with this 
phase of experience have arisen since their time. The 
distinction between the pain sense and the hedonic quali- 
ties of pleasantness and unpleasantness is of recent 
origin. The James-Lange theory of emotion was not 
propounded till 1884-5. Any attempt to determine how 
the school would have applied its principles to these new 
problems would be merely conjectural. 

So far as complex affective phenomena are concerned 
there is no difficulty. The James-Lange theory lends 


itself to the associational interpretation perhaps better 
than the traditional conception of emotion. According 
to James's view the motor expression occurs and the emo- 
tional attitude is assumed before the emotional feeling is 
aroused. The expression, in fact, calls forth the feeling. 
The operation would appear to the associationist as a two- 
fold process. First the perception or thought of some 
situation arouses the emotional expression by association; 
this in turn by a second act of association gives rise to 
the emotional feeling. Both of these steps involve suc- 
cessive association. But since the motor attitude persists 
along with the feeling, the two are united by the operation 
of simultaneous association. The distinctive experience 
called 'emotion' arises from this union of motor and 
affective elements. 

Similarly the less intense affective complexes, which are 
sometimes called sentiments, may be treated as products 
of association. The appreciation of beauty (esthetic 
sentiment) appears to comprise both a feeling element 
(pleasure) and an idea of the beautiful or harmonious. 
The idea arouses the feeling by successive association. 
The two persist together; through simultaneous associa- 
tion they are welded together and transformed into an 
experience sui generis. 

The moral sentiments admit of the same interpretation. 
Here the idea is not of harmony, but of Tightness, duty, 
justice. And so of other sentiments, such as the sublime, 
the true, or even the fantastic and the ludicrous. 

When we come to consider the more elementary affec- 
tive phenomena the hedonic tone or feeling the asso- 
ciational interpretation is less clear. If we regard 
pleasure-pain as a mere attribute of sensation, it is not 
easy to explain its origin as due to association. The 
Duality and intensity attributes (or characters) of sensa- 
tion are due directly to differences of quality (periodicity, 
etc.) and difference of intensity in the stimuli. Appar- 


ently the pleasure-pain experience is not due to any char- 
acter of the stimulus. When we are cut by a knife or 
burned by a match, the resulting discomfort is not the 
conscious equivalent of something that exists in the knife 
or the match. Rather it is due indirectly to the destruc- 
tive effect of the implement upon the tissues of the body. 

It is possible, however, to regard the pleasantness- 
unpleasantness phenomenon as a sensory experience in its 
own right. It may prove to be a variety of sensation 
somewhat similar to the organic sensations of hunger, 
thirst, and digestion, whose stimuli are internal to the 
organism. Sherrington's conception of interoceptors 
sense organs or receptors connected with the internal 
processes suggests this interpretation. 

If this view be correct, then there are besides the 
external senses, which gather impressions from the outer 
world, certain other senses the systemic which receive 
impressions from within and inform us concerning the 
state of our own organs and tissues. The association 
school would find no difficulty in explaining affective 
consciousness under this hypothesis. A perception or 
thought with its hedonic accompaniment appears to be 
an associated complex of ' external ' and ' internal ' ele- 
ments. The pleasure or pain element is the contribution 
by the organism itself, which is united to the impression 
received from the outer world (or to some thought based 
on external experience). The associated elements become 
so firmly united together and so transformed, that they 
constitute a unitary experience, and the hedonic tone 
appears to be a character of the external sensation itself. 

5. Completion of the Analysis 

Associationism, then, can readily account for affective 
phenomena, if they be regarded as based upon a separate 
and distinctive class of sensations. The only modification 


of the old associationist scheme required is to broaden the 
notion of sensation. 

If, in addition, we regard conation (and the motor 
aspect of consciousness generally) as based upon a third 
variety of senses Sherrington's proprioceptors the 
associational analysis is brought into still greater har- 
mony with contemporary psychology. For this would 
presuppose as elements of experience three distinct 
classes of sensations the external, systemic, and motor 
together with ideas derived from them. All actual ex- 
periences, both simple and complex, according to the 
analysis outlined in this chapter would seem capable of 
interpretation as due to the operation of successive and 
simultaneous association upon these elements. 

The case for associationism has been stated as strongly 
and fairly as the writer knows how. It would seem un- 
gracious at the close of this examination to turn critic 
or censor. Still, it may not be inappropriate to suggest 
one or two points in the doctrine which seem inadequate 
to one who finds himself generally in sympathy with the 

First of all, it would appear from the discussion in 
this chapter that, the associationists included under the 
term association two or three rather distinct operations. 
Simultaneous association and successive association oper- 
ate in different ways; the former is a union, the latter a 
change or passage from one experience to another. Further- 
more, the transformation or mental chemistry which oc- 
curs in simultaneous association seems to be still another 
sort of operation. To group these three operations under 
a single name, 'association/ is a verbal simplification 
scarcely justified by the facts with which we are dealing. 

Again, the phenomena of attention and discrimination 
do not seem to be accounted for under the association- 
ist's treatment. These phenomena appear to involve dis- 
tinctive operations upon the elementary data. In other 


words, instead of accounting for all complications of 
experience by means of one single type of operation, we 
seem justified in assuming several different operations. A 
complete interpretation of experience would appear to 
involve at least discrimination, two synthetic processes, 
and transformation, in addition to the original sensibility 
and revival, and possibly also a focalizing factor. 1 

It may be suggested in closing that as association, in 
the view of these writers, is a psychophysical process, so 
these supplementary operations are psychophysical. To 
understand them fully and to distinguish which of them 
are really independent operations, would mean a thorough 
study of the physiology of the nerve impulse. 

While this may seem far removed from the introspec- 
tive method of the association school, it is in reality quite 
in harmony with their fundamental procedure. Hartley, 
the father of the movement, considered this neural inter- 
pretation the central problem of psychology. His failure 
to obtain satisfactory results was due to the backwardness 
of physiological research. 

The problem of neural activity still remains unsolved. 
Until we know just what occurs in the nervous system 
between stimulation and response, the issue remains open. 
The physiological processes which occur in ^he neurons 
of the brain may or may not be reducible to a single 
operation. Until this is definitely determined we are not 
in a position to appraise fully the work of the association 

1 See the writer's ' Human Psychology,' ch. 8. The mental opera- 
tions given there were reached through long study of the associa- 
tion psychology. 




Arnold, F. Psychology of Association (1906). 

Baldwin, J. M. Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology (1901). 

Blakey, R. History of the Philosophy of Mind (1848). 

Bower, G. S. David Hartley and James Mill (1881). 

Claparede, E. L'association des idees (1902). 

Coleridge, S. T. Biographia Literaria (1847). 

Cousin, V. Philosophic sensualiste au XVIII e siecle (sth ed. 1866). 

Dewaule, L. Condillac et la psychologic anglaise contemporaine 

Diogenes Laertes. Lives and Doctrines of Philosophers (A.D, 
200 ca.). 

Fern, L. La psychologic de 1'association (1883), [Cf. Italian 
original, 1878.] 

Goblot, E. Le vocabulaire philosophique (1901); article on 'As- 

Hamilton, Wm. Reid's Works: with notes (1846). 

Hoffding, H. Einleitung in die englische Philosophic unserer Zeit 

Janet, Paul, and Seailles, G. Histoire de la philosophic (1887-8). 

Kirchner, F. Worterbuch der philosophischen Grundbcgriffe (1886). 

Lange, F. A. Geschichte des Materialismus (1866). 

Lewes, G. H. History of Philosophy from Thales to Comte 
(1845-6; rev. 1880). 

Mackintosh, James. Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Phi- 
losophy (1831). 

Morell, J. D. Speculative Philosophy in the I9th Century (1846; 
rev. 1858). 

Morris, G. S. British Thought and Thinkers (1880). 

Ribot, T. A. Psychologic anglaise contemporaine (1870; 2d ed. 

Robertson, G. C. Association of Ideas. [Art. in ' Encycl. Brit/ 9th 
ed. and nth ed.] 

Stephen, I. English Thought in the i8th Century (1876). 

Sollier, P. Essai sur 1'association en psychologic (1907). 

Stout, G. F. Associationism and Association of Ideas. [Art. in 
Baldwin's ' Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology ' 1901.] 



Ueberweg, F. History of Philosophy (1862; several editions). 

Villa, G. La Psicologia contemporanea (1899). 

Windelband, W. Geschichte der neueren Philosophic (1890-92). 


Aristotle [B.C. 384-322]. De anima, bk. II, ch. 12; bk. Ill, ch. 2-4. 
Parva naturalia: De sensu, ch. I, 4, 7; De memoria et 

reminiscentia, ch. i, 2. [See esp. De mem., ch. 2, sec. 611.] 
Augustine [L. Aurelius Augustinus; A.D. 354-430], Confessions, 

bk. X, sec. 13, 14, 28. 
Carneades [B.C. 213 ca.-i29]. See Sextus Empiricus, Adv. Math., 

bk. VII, sec. 176. 
Chrysippus [B.C. ca. 281-208]. See Diogenes Laertes, bk. VII, ' Zeno/ 

sec. 36. 

Descartes, Rene [A.D. 1596-1650]. Traite de I'homme (posthumous). 
Epicurus [B.C. 342-270]. See Diogenes Laertes, bk. X, sec. 21. 
Plato [B.C. 427-347]. Phaedo, sec. 73-6. 
Vives, Juan Luis [A.D. 1492-1540]. Commentary on Aristotle's De 

anima, bk. I, and bk. II, ch. De mem. 
Zeno of Cittium [ca. B.C. 342-264], See Diogenes Laertes, bk. VII, 

sec. 28, 36, 52. 


Alison, A. [1757-1839]. Essays on the Nature and Principles of 

Taste (1790). 

Austin, J. [1790-1859], Lectures on Jurisprudence (posthumous). 
Bailey, S. [1791-1870]. Review of Berkeley's Theory of Vision 

Letters on the Philosophy of the Human Mind (3 series, 

1855, '58, '63). 
Bain, A. [1818-1903]. Senses and Intellect (1855), 

Emotions and Will (1859). 

Mind and Body (1866). 

Mental Science (1868). 

Notes in James Mill's 'Analysis' (1869 ed.). 

Logic (1870). 

Baxter, A. [1686-1750]. Enquiry into the Nature of the Human 

Soul (1730?). 
Belsham, T. [1750-1829], Elements of the Philosophy of the Human 

Mind (1801). 

Belsham, W. [1752-1827]. Essays Philosophical and Moral (1794). 
Bentham, J. [1748-1832]. Principles of Morals and Legislation 



Berkeley, G. [1685-1753], Essay towards a New Theory of Vision 

Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge 

(1710, 1734). 

Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713). 

< New Theory of Vision Vindicated (1733). 

Brown, T. [1778-1820]. Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human 

Mind (1820). 

Browne, P. [ca. 1665-1735]. The Procedure, Extent and Limits of 
the Human Understanding (1728). 

Collier, A. [1680-1732], Clavis universalis (1713). 

Collins, A. [1676-1729], Essay concerning the Use of Reasoning in 
Propositions (1707). 

Cumberland, R. [1631-1718]. De legibus naturae (1672). 

Darwin, E. [1731-1802]. Zoonomia (1794). 

Dodwell, H. [1641-1711]. De veteribus graecorum romanoramque 
cyclis (1701). 

Gay, J. [1609-1745]. Dissertation on the Fundamental Principle of 
Virtue. (Preface to Archbishop King's ' Origin of Evil/ trans, 
by Archdeacon Law). 

Gerard, A. [1728-1795]. Essay on Taste (1758). 

Hamilton, Wm. [1788-1856]. Lectures on Metaphysics (1859-60). 
[Law of Redintegration, in Lecture 31.] 

Hartley, D. [1705-1757], Conjecturae quaedam de sensu, motu et 
idearum generatione (1731?). [Reprinted 1837 by Parr in 
' Metaphysical Tracts by English Philosophers of the i8th Cen- 

Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expecta- 
tions (1749)- 

Hobbes, T. [1588-1679]. Human Nature (1650). 

Leviathan (Engl. 1651; Latin, 1668). 

Hume, D. [1711-1776], Treatise on Human Nature (1739). 

' Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748). 

Lewes, G. H. [1817-1878]. Problems of Life and Mind (1875-77)- 

Locke, J. [1632-1704], Essay concerning Human Understanding 

Maine, H. J. S. [1822-1883]. Ancient Law (1861). 

Mandeville, B. de [1670-1733]. Fable of the Bees (1705), 

Martineau, J. [1805-1900]. Essay on Priestley (1866). 

Mill, James [1773-1836]. Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human 
Mind (1829). 

Mill, J. S. [1806-1873]. Logic (1843). 


* Examination of the Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton 


Notes in James Mill's 'Analysis' (1869 ed.). 

Morell, J. D. [1811-1891]. Elements of Psychology (1853). 

Introduction to Mental Philosophy (1862). 

Murphy, J. J. [1827-1894]- Habit and Intelligence (1869). 
Priestley, J. [1733-1804]. Examination of Dr. Reid's Inquiry . . . 

and Dr. Oswald's Appeal to the Principles of Common Sense 

Letters on Materialism and Hartley's Theory of the Human 

Mind (1775)- 

Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit (1777)- 

Smith, A. [1723-1790]. Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)- 

On the External Senses (i795). 

Spencer, H. [1820-1903]. First Principles (1862). 

Principles of Psychology (1855, rev. 1870). 

Tucker, A. [1705-1774]. The Light of Nature Pursued (1768). 

[Anon.] An Enquiry into the Origin of Human Appetites and Af- 
fections, efc. (1747), [Attributed to John Gay.] 

[Anon.] Essay on the Nature and Existence of the Material World 


Bardili, C. G. [1761-1808]. Ueber die Gesetze der Ideenassociation 

und insbesondere ein bisher unbekanntes Grundgesetz derselben 

Beneke, F. E. [1798-1854]. Erfahrungsseelenlehre als Grundlage 

alles Wissens (1820). 

Psychologische Skizzen (2 vols. 1825-27). 

Pragmatische Psychologic (1832). 

Lehrbuch der Psychologic als Naturwissenschaft (1832). 

Die neue Psychologic (1845). 

Bonnet, Ch. [1720-1793]. Essai de psychologic (1754). 

Essai analytique sur les facultes de 1'ame (1760). 

Cabanis, P. J. G. [i757-i8o8]. Rapports du physique et du morale 

de Thomme (1802). 
Condillac, Etienne Bonnot de [1715-1780], Essai sur 1'origine des 

connoissances humaines (1746). 

Traite des sensations (1754). 

L'art de penser (1780). 

Logique (1780, posthumous). 


Cureau de La Chambre, Marin [ca. 1596-1669], Systeme de Tame 

Destutt de Tracy, A. L. CL [1754-1835]- Elements d'ideologie 

Diderot, d'Alembert, etc. Encyclopedic ou Dictionnaire raisonne 

des sciences, etc. (1751-1765). [Art. 'Association des idees,' by 

Abbe Yvon.] 
Dorsch, A. J. [1758-1819]. Ueber die Ideenverbindung und die 

darauf gegrundeten Seelenverstande (1788). 
Ernesti, Job. Aug. [1707-1781], De mente humana (1734)- 
Fortlage, Karl [1806-1881], System der Psychologic als empirische 

Wissenschaft (1852). 
Fries, J. Fr. [1773-1843]. Neue oder anthropologische Kritik der 

Vernunft (1807), 

Galluppi, Pasquale [1770-1846]. Elementi di psicologia (1834). 
Goerenz, Job. Aug. [1765-1836]. Vestigia (1791). 
Helvetius, Cl. Ad. [1715-1771]. De 1'esprit (1758). 
De Thomme, de ses facultes intellectueUes, et de son educa- 
tion (1784, posthumous). 

Herbart, Joh. Fr. [1774-1841], Lchrbuch der Psychologic (1816). 
Hissmann, Mich. [1752-1784], Geschichte der Lehre von der Asso- 
ciation der Ideen (1777). 

Jouffroy, Th. Simon [1796-1842]. Melanges philosophiques (1833). 
La Mettrie, Offray de [1709-1751]. L'histoire naturelle de Tame 


L'homme machine (1848). 

Laromiguiere, P. [1756-1837], Lemons de philosophic ou Essai sur 

les facultes de 1'ame (1815-18). 

Lotze, R. Hermann [1817-1881], Medicinische Psychologic (1852). 
Maass, Joh. Geb. Ehr. [1766-1823], Versuch iiber die Einbildungs- 

kraft (1792), 
Maine de Biran, M. F. P. G. [1766-1824]. Influence de 1'habitude 

sur les facultes de penser (1802). 

Malebranche, Nic. [i638-i7i'5]. De la recherche de la V6rit6 (1674). 
Mervoyer, P. M. [i8o5~ca. 1866], Etude sur 1'association des idees 

Miiller, Joh. Peter [1801-1858]. Handbuch der Thysiologie des 

Menschen (1833-40). 

Spinoza, Benedict [1632-1677], Ethics (1674). 
Taine, H. Ad, [1828-1893]. De Intelligence (1870). 
Tetens, Joh. Nic. [1738-1807], Philosophische Versuche iiber die 

menschliche Natur und ihre Entwicklung (1777). 


Zanotti, Fr. Maria [1692-1777]. Delia forza attrativa delle idee 

Allin, A. Ueber das Grundprincip der Association (1895)., 
Andrade, J. Du role de Tassociation des idees dans la formation 

des concepts metaphysiques du mecanisme. Rev. de mt., 1889, 

7, 176-182. 
Ardigo, R. Lo sforzo associative e la dinamica mentale. Riv. di 

filos. sclent., 1889, 8, 65-88. 
Aschaffenburg, <j. Experimentelle Studien iiber Association. 

Psychol. Arb., 1895, /, 209-299; 1897, 2, 1-83; 1902, 4, 235-373- 
Baldwin, J. M. Senses and Intellect (1889). 
Bechterew, W. von. Experimentell-psychologische Untersuchung 

von Verbrecher, /. /. Psychol u. NeuroL, 1903, 2, 1-3. 
Bergstrom, J. A. Relation of the interference to the practice effect 

of an association. Amer. J. of Psychol., 1894, 6 f 433-422. 
Binet, A. L'etude experimental de Intelligence (1903). 
Bourdon, B. Les resultats des theories contetnporaines sur 1'asso- 

ciation des idees. Rev. philos., 1891, 31, 561-610. 
Recherches sur la succession des phenomenes psychologiques. 

Rev. philos., 1893, 35, 225-260. 

Observations comparatives sur la reconnaissance, la dis- 
crimination et 1'association. Rev. philos., 1895, 40, 153-185. 
Bradley, F. H. Association and thought. Mind, 1887, 12, 354-381. 
Brochard, V. La loi de similarite dans Tassociation des ide"es. Rev. 

philos., 1880, p, 257-269. 
Browne, C. E. Psychology of the simple arithmetical processes. 

Amer. /. of Psychol., 1906, 17, 1-37. 
Calkins, M. W. A suggested classification of cases of association. 

Philos. Rev., 1892, I, 389-402. 

Association. Psychol. Rev., 1894, J, 476-484; 1896, 3, 32-49. 

Association. Psychol. Monog., 1896, No. 2. 

Memory and association. Psychol. Rev., 1898, 5, 451-462. 

Carr, H. A. Length of time interval in successive association. 

Psychol. Rev., 1919, 26, 335-353- 

Carr, H. A., and Freeman, A. S. Time relationships in the forma- 
tion of associations. Psychol. Rev., 1919, 26, 465-473. 
Cattell, J. McK. Experiments on the association of ideas. Mind, 

1887, 12, 68-74. 
Psychometrische Untersuchungen. Philos. Studien, 1888, 3, 

305-336, 452-492; 4, 241-250. 


and Bryant, S. Mental association investigated by experi- 
ment. Mind, 1889, 14, 230-250. 
Cordes, G. Experimented Untersuchungen iiber Association. 

Philos. Stud., 1901, 17, 30-77. 
Crane, H. W. A study in association reaction and reaction results. 

Psychol Monog., 1915, No. 80. 
Deffner, K. Die Aehnlichkeitsassociation. Zsch. f. Psychol, 1898, 

18, 218-249. 
Dumas, Geo. L'association des idees dans les passions. Rev. frhilos., 

1891, 31, 483-505- 
Dumont, Ch. De la ressemblance et de la contiguite dans 1'associa- 

tion des idees. Rev. de met., 1895, 3, 285-307. 
Duprat, L. Association mentale et causalite psychologique. Rev, 

Phil, 1913. 75, 452-470. 
Eastman, F, C., and Rosanoff, A. J. Association in feeble-minded 

and delinquent children. Amer. J. of Insan., 1912, dp, 125-141. 
Ebbinghaus, H. Ueber das Gedachtnis (1885). 
Fite, W. The associational conception of experience. Philos. Rev., 

1900, p, 268-292. 

Contiguity and similarity. Philos. Rev., 1900, p, 613-629. 

Flint, R. Associationism and the origin of moral ideas. Mind, 

1875, *, 321-334. 
Foster, W. S. On the perseverative tendency. Amer. J. of 

Psychol, 1914, 25, 393-426. 
Foucault, M. Etude experimentale sur Tassociation de ressemblance. 

Arch, de psychol, 1911, 10, 338-360. 
Froeberg, S. Simultaneous versus successive association. Psychol, 

Rev., 1918, 25, 156-163. 

Galton, F. Psychometric experiments. Brain, 1879, 2, 149-162. 
Goblot, E, Sur la theorie physiologique de Tassociation. Rev, 

philos., 1898, tf, 487-503. 
Halevy, E. De Tassociation des ide*es. Bibl du Congres int. de 

phil, Sec. i, 1900, pp. 219-235. 
Hoffding, H. Ueber Wiedererkennen, Association und psychische 

Activitat. Vjsch. f. wiss. Phil, iSSg), 13, 420^58; 1900, 14, 27-54, 

167-205, 392-316. 
Howe, H. C. " Mediate " association. Amer. J. of Psychol, 1894, 

6, 239-241. 
Huber, H. Ueber den Einfluss von optischen oder akustischen 

Reiz und grammatikalischer form des Reizwortes auf dem As- 

soziationsvorgang. /. /. Psychol. u. Neurol, 1918, 23, 171- 



Hunter, W. S. A reformulation of the law of association. Psychol 

Rev. t 1917, *4> 188-196. 
James, W. The association of ideas. Pop. Sci. Mo., 1880, id, 577- 


Principles of Psychology (1890). [Vol. I, pp. 550-604.] 

Jastrow, J. Community and association of ideas. Psychol. Rev., 

1894, *, 152-158. 
Jost, A. Die Assoziationsfestigkeit in ihrer Abhangigkeit von der 

Verteilung der Wiederholungen. Zsch. f. Psychol., 1897, 14, 

Jung, C. G., Bleuler, E., Ricklin, Fr., etc. Diagnostische Associa- 

tionsstudien. /. /. Psychol, u. NeuroL, 1904, 3, 55-83* 145-164, 

193-215, 283-308; 4, 24-87, 109-123, 129-143; 1905, 5, 73-90; 6 t 

1-36, 1^6-154; 1906, 7, t-24, 223-252; S, 25-60; 1907, 9, 188-197, 

243-278; JO, 149-181; ii t 65-95, 133-153; 1910, 16, 102-128, 
Jung, C. G. Associations d'ide"es familiales. Arch, de psychol., 

1907, 7> 160-168. 
The association method. Amer. J. of Psychol., 1910, 21, 219- 

Kellor, F. A. The association of ideas. Ped. S<em. f 1901, 8, 341- 


Kent, G. EL, and Rosanoff, A. J, A study of association in in- 
sanity. Amer. J. of Insan., 1910, 67, 37-96, 317-390. 

Kiesow, F. Ueber sogenannte 'frei steigende* Vorstellungen und 
plotzlich auftretende Aenderungen des Gemiitszustandes. 
Arch. f. d. ges. Psychol., 1905, 6, 357-39O. 

Kirkpatrick, E. A. Experimental study of memory. Psychol. Rev., 
1894, I, 602-609. 

Kraepelin, EmiL Experimentelle Studien iiber Associationen. 
Versamml. Deutsch. Naturf. u. Aerate, Freiburg (1883). 

Ueber den Einfluss der Uebung auf die Dauer von Associa- 
tionen (1889). 

Ueber die Beeinflussung einfacher psychischer Vorgange 

durch einige Arzneimittel (1892). 

Kramer, F., and Stern, W. Selbstverrat durch Assoziation. Beitr. 
2. Psychol. d. Aussage, 1905, 3, 150-155. [Cf. 1906, 4, 1-32.] 

Lay, A., and Menzerath, P. L'etude experimentale de Tassociation 
des idees dans les maladies mentales (1911). 

Lay, W. Mental Imagery. Psychol Monog., 1898, No. 7. 

Lehmann, A. Ueber Wiedererkennen. Philos. Stud., 1888-89, 5, 96- 

Loring, M. W. Methods of studying controlled word associations. 
Psychobiol., 1918, J, 369-428. 


May, M. A. The mechanism of controlled association. Arch, of 
PsychoL, 1917, No. 39. 

Mayer, A., and Orth, J. Zur qualitativen Untersuchungen der As- 
sociation. Zsch. f, PsychoL, 1901, 26, 1-13. 

Meyer, E. Ueber die Gesetze der simultanen Assoziation und das 
Wiedererkennen (1910). 

Mitchell, I., Rosanoff, I. R., and Rosanoff, A. J. A study of asso- 
ciation in negro children. PsychoL Rev., 1919, 26, 354-359. 

Miiller, G. E., and Pilzecker, A. Experimented Beitrage zur Lehre 
vom Gedachtnis. Zsch. f. PsychoL, Ergbd. i, 1900. 

Miiller, G. E., and Schumann, F. Experimented Beitrage zur 
Lehre des Gedachtnisses. Zsch. f. PsychoL, 1893, 6 t 81-190, 

Miinsterberg, H, Beitrage zur experimentellen Psychologic, Heft 

i (1889). 
Die Association successiver Vorstellungen. Zsch. f. PsychoL, 

1890, i, 99-107. 
- Beitrage zur experimentellen Psychologic, Heft 4 (1892). 

[Studien zur Associationslehre, pp. 1-39.] 
Nagel, F. Experimentelle Untersuchungen iiber Grundfragen der 

Assoziationslehre. Arch. f. d. ges. Psychol, 1912, 23, 156-253. 
Offner, M. Ueber die Grundformen der Vorstellungsverbindungen. 

Philos. Monatsh., 1892, 28, 385-416, 513-347. 
Paulhan, Fr, I/associationisme et la synthese psychique. Rev* 

philos., 1888, 25, 32-64. 

Peters, W. Ueber Aehnlichkeitsassociation (1910). 
Pie>on, H. L'association mediate. Rev. philos., 1903, $6, 142-149. 
1 La conception generate de Tassociation des id^es et les 

donn6es de I'expSrience. Rev. philos., 1904, 57, 493-517. 
Poppelreuter, W. Ueber den Versuch einer Revision der psycho- 

physiologischen Lehre von der elementaren Assoziation und 

Reproduktion. Monat. /, Psychiat. u. Neural., 1915, 37 1 278- 

Pillsbury, W. B. A study of apperception. Amer. J. of PsychoL, 

1897, 8, 315-393. 
Rosanoff, I. R., and Rosanoff, A, J. A study of association in 

children. PsychoL Rev., 1913, 20, 43-89. 
Rusk, R, R. Experiments on mental association in children. Brit. 

J. of PsychoL, 1910, 3, 349-387. 
Schiessl, M. Untersuchungen iiber die Ideenassociation und deren 

Einfluss auf den Erkenntnissakt. Zsch. f. Philos. u. philos. Kr., 

1872, 61, 247-282; 1873, fa, i-30. 


Schmidt, Friedrich. Experimentelle Untersuchungen zur Associa- 

tionslehre. Zsch. f. PsychoL, 1902, 28, 65-95. 
Scripture, E. W. Ueber den associativen Verlauf der Vorstel- 

lungen. Philos. Stud., 1891-92, 7, 50-146. 
Shepard, J. F., and Fogelsanger, H. M. Studies in association and 

inhibition. PsychoL Rev., 1913, 20, 290-311. 
Smith, T. L. On muscular memory. Amer. J. of PsychoL, 1896, 7, 

Smith, W. G. Zur Frage der mittelbaren Association (1894). 

Mediate Association. Mind, N. S,, 1894, 3, 289-304. 

Stern, W. Psychologische Tatbestandsdiagnostik. Beitr. s. PsychoL 

d. Aussage, 1905, *, 145-147- 
Stout, G. F. Analytical Psychology (1896). 

Strieker, S. Studien iiber die Association der Vorstellungen (1883). 
Sully, J. Outlines of Psychology (1884). 

Human Mind (1892). 

Sutherland, A. H. Critique of word association reactions (1913). 

Tanner, A. E. Association of Ideas (1900). 

Tanzi, E. Intorno aH'associazione delle idee. Riv. di filos. scient., 

1888, 7, 602-609. 
Thumb, A., and Marbe, K. Experimentelle Untersuchungen iiber 

die psychologischen Grundlagen der sprachlichen Analogic- 

bildung (1901). 
Titchener, E. B. Outline of Psychology (1896). 

Text-book of Psychology (1910). 

Tolman, E. C., and Johnson, L A note on association-time and 

feeling. Amer. /. of PsychoL, 1918, 29, 187-195, 
Trautscholdt, M. Experimentelle Untersuchungen iiber die Asso- 
ciation der Vorstellungen. Philos. Stud., 1883, r, 213-250. 
Wahle, R. Bemerkungen zur Beschreibung und Emtheilung der 

Ideenassociation. Vjsch. f. wiss. Philos., 1885, p, 404-432. 
Ward, James. Article 'Psychology/ Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th 

ed. [Vol. XX (1886), pp. 37-85.] 
Assimilation and association. Mind, N. S., 1893, 2, 347-362; 

1894, 3, 509-532. 
Wells, F. L. Some properties of free association time. PsychoL 

Rev., 1911, 18, 1-24. (Cf. Practice effects in free association. 

Amer. J. of PsychoL, 1911, 22, 1-12.) 
A preliminary note on the categories of association reactions. 

PsychoL Rev., 1911, 18, 229-233. 
The question of association types. PsychoL Rev.> 1912, ip, 



Association type and personality. Psychol. Rev., 1919, 26, 

Autistic mechanisms in association reaction. Psychol. Rev., 

1919, 26, 376-382. 
Wertheimer, M., and Klein, J. Psychologische Tatbestandsdiag- 

nostik. Arch, f. Kriminalanthrop., 1904, 15, 72-113. 
Wertheimer, M. Experimented Untersuchungen zur Tatbestands- 

diagnostik Arch. f. d. ges. Psychol., 1905, 6, 59-131. 
Wimmer, A. Ueber Assoziationsuntersuchungen besonders 

schwachsinniger Kinder* Monat. f. Psychiat. u. Neurol, 1909, 

2$, 169-182, 268-284. 
Woodrow, H., and Lowell, F. Children's association frequency 

tables. Psychol. Monog., 1917, No. 97. 
Wohlgemuth, A. Simultaneous and successive association. Brit. J. 

of Psychol., 1915, /, 434-452. 
Woodworth, R. S., and Wells, F. L. Association tests. Psychol. 

Monog., 1911, No. 57. 
Wreschner, A. Eine experimentelle Studie iiber die Association in 

einem Falle von Idiotie. Allg. Zsch. f. Psychiat., 1900, 57, 241- 

Die Reproduktion und Assoziation von Vorstellungen. 

Zsch. f. PsychoL, Ergbd. 3 (1907-9). 
Wundt, W. Grundziige der physiologischen Psychologic, (ist ed. 

1874, 5th ed. 1902-3). [Section on Association, Vol. III.] 
Bemerkungcn zur Associationslehre. Philos. Stud., 1891-2, 

7, 329-361. 
Sind die Mitglieder einer mittelbaren Association bewusst 

oder unbewusst? Philos. Stud., 1894, 10, 326-328. 
Yerkes, R. M., and Berry, C. S. The association reaction method 

of mental diagnosis. Amer. J, of Psychol, 1909, 20, 22-57. 
Ziehen, Th. Ueber Ideenassoziation des Kindes. Samml. v. Abh. 

a. d. Geb. d. pad. Psychol, 1898, J, pt. 6; 1900, 3, pt. 4. 


The principal discussion of each author is indicated by a double 
page reference, -e.g., 125-130. 
Incidental references to writers are not included in the Index. 

Alison, A., 68, 275 

Allin, A., 243 

Andrade, J., 235 

Ardigo, R., 202, 235 

Aristotle, 4, 8, 15, 23-28, 51*1., 

61, 157, 186, 203, 259, 272 ff., 

277, 282, 285 
Arnold, F., 22, 250, 254 
Aschaffenburg, G., 228, 249 ff. 
Augustine, 30, 274 
Austin, J., 82 

Bailey, S., 116 

Bain, A., 16, 101, 104-117, 118, 
120, 143, 145, 167-168, 213, 263, 
270, 275, 278, 281, 286 f. 

Baldwin, J. M., 20, 242 

Bardili, C, G., 204 

Bechterew, W., von, 230 

Belsham, T., 65 n. 

Belsham, W., 65 n. 

Beneke, F. E., 208-210 

Bentham, J., 65 n. 

Bergstrom, J. A., 219 

Berkeley, G., 13 ff., 18, 4042, 
116, 157, 261 f., 266 f., 274, 277 

Bernard, C., 196 

Berry, C. S., 232 

Binet, A., 239 

Blakey, R'., 21 n., 61 n. 

Bleuler, E., 230 

Bonnet, C, 187-189, 262, 284 

Bourdon, B.. 236 f . 

Bower, G. S., 21 

Bradley, F. H,, 214 

Brochard, V., 241 

Brown, T., 6n., 13, 15, 70-80, 
128, 134, 162-103, 178 n., 260!, 
264 f., 267, 275, 278 f., 281!, 
285 f. 

Browne, C. E., 239 

Browne, P., 47 
Bryant, S., 247, 249 

Cabanis, P. J. G., 192 

Calkins, M. W., 220, 238, 249 f . 

Carneades, 29, 274 

Carpenter, W. B., 82 n. 

Carr, H. A., 221 

Cattell, J. McK., 222, 247, 249 

Chrysippus, 29 

Claparede, E., 22, 187, 250, 252 

Clifford, W. K., 153 

Coleridge, S, T., 21 

Collier, A., 47 

Collins, A., 47 

Comte, A., 139 

Condillac, E. T. de, 10, 16, 183- 

186, 191, 196, 199 n., 262,284 
Cordes, G., 228 
Cousin, V., 21 
Cureau de La Chambre, M., 3 n., 


Darwin, C, 16, 118 

Darwin, E., 68-69, 274, 278 

Deffner, K., 244 

Descartes, R., n, 32, 155, 181, 

266, 274, 285 
Destutt de Tracy, A. L. C., 191- 

192, 262 

Dewaule, L., 185, 284 
Diogenes Laertes, 29 
Dodwell, H y 47 
Dorsch, A. J., 204 
Dumas, G., 237 
Dumont, Ch., 243 
Duprat, L., 256 

Eastman, F. C., 233 
Ebbinghaus, H., 217 f. 
Encyclopedists, 186 
Epicurus, 29, 274 
Ernesti, J. A., 203 




Fechner, i75, 212 
Ferri, L., 18 f ., 202 
Fite, W., 225 
Flint, R., 214 n. 
Fogelsanger, H. M., 240 
Fortlage, K., 210 
Foster, W. S., 240 
Foucault, M., 245 
Freeman, A. S., 221 
Freeman, E. A., 82 n. 
Frenzel, B., 203 n. 
Fries, J, F., 205 
Froeberg, S., 246 

Galluppi, P., 201 
Galton, F., 153, 215-216, 220 
Gay, J., 47-49, 262, 275 
Goblot, E., 243 
Goerenz, J. A., 204 
Grote, G., 82 n. 

Halevy, E., 238 

Hamilton, W., 21, 24, 30 f., 95, 

197 f ., 204, 213, 284 
Hartley, D M 12, 14 f., 46, 50-64, 

71, 82, .toi n., 128, 157-162, 167, 

183, 187, 262, 267, 269 ff., 

276 ff., 283, 285, 292, 301 
Helmholtz, 243 
Helvetius, CL, 10, 189-191 
Herbart, J. F., 116, 241 
Hissmann, M., 204 
Hobbes, T., 4#., 14*., 33-36, 

155, 163, 190, 259 ff-, 267, 271 f., 

274, 277, 285, 296 
Hoffding, H., 243 
Holt, E. B., 179 n. 
Howe, H. C, 227 
Huber, H., 234 
Hume, D., 5, 12, 14 f., 43-47, 

52 n., 56, 156!., 183, 190, 200, 

261, 267, 274, 277 
Hunter, W. S., 246, 279 n. 

Ideologists, 191 

James, W., 147 n,, 171, 241, 304 

Janet, P., 21 

Jastrow, J., 237 

Johnson, L, 223 

Jost, A., 219 f. 

Jouffroy, Th. S., 195 

Jung, C. G., 230, 250 f ., 253 

Kant, L, n, 46, 127 n., 162, 177, 


Kellor, F. A., 229 
Kent, G. H., 232 ff. 
Kiesow, F., 228 
Kirkpatrick, E. A., 219 
Klein, J., 231 n. 
Kraepelin, E., 229, 249 ff. 

La Chambre (see Cureau de La 

La Mettrie, Offray de, 186 

Laromiguiere, P., 193 f. 

Lay, W., 233, 238 

Lehmann, A., 242 1 

Leibnitz, G. W. L., 203 

Lewes, G. H., 16, 120, 137-153, 
172-175, 198 n., 264, 270 f., 275, 
278 1, 284, 286, 292, 294, 297 n., 
298 n., 299, 300 n., 301 ff. 

Locke, J., 3ff, 12, 141., 36-40, 
93, 143, 156, 173, i8ll, 190, 
262, 2661, 271, 274, 277, 285 f. 

Loring, M. V., 234 

Lotze, H., 2ii 

Lowell, F., 233 

Maass, J. G. E., 204 

Mackintosh, J., 82 n. 

Maine, H. J. S., 82 n. 

Maine de Biran, M. F. P. G., 
192-193, 202, 276 

Malebranche, N., 181 1 

Mandeville, B. de, 47 

Marbe, K., 223 

Martineau, J., 82 n. 

Maudsley, H., 82 n. 

May, M. A., 221 

Mayer, A., 223 

McCosh, J., 12 

Menzerath, P., 233 

Mervoyer, P. M., 194-195, 284 

Meyer, E., 221 

Mill, J., 16, 81-94, 971, ioo, in, 
115, 137, 163-165, 199, 235, 263, 
265 n., 270, 275, 286, 297 n. 

Mill, J. S, 14, 16, 79, 87, 91, 95- 
103, in, 163, 165-167, 173, * 
264, 270, 275, 278 f ,, 282 f ., 2 

Mitchell, I., 233 

Morell, J. D., 21, 116 

Miiller, G. K, 218, 220 



Miiller, J., 210-211 
Miinsterberg, H., 225 f . 
Murphy, J. J., 152 

Nagel, R, 228 

Offner, M., 248 f . 
Orth, J., 223 

Paulhan, Fr., 235 
Peters, W., 245 
Pieron, H., 228, 246 
Pillsbury, W., 224 
Pilzecker, A., 220 
Plato, 23 f ., 274 
Poppelreuter, W., 246 
Priestley, J., 51, 67-68, 266 f ., 274 

Reid, T., 12, 46, 64, 204 n., 213 
Ribot, Th., 18 f ., 199-200 
Ricklin, Fr., 230, 250, 253 
Robertson, G. C, 19 f. 
Rosanoff, A. J., 232 ff. 
Rosanoff, I. R,, 233 
Rusk, R. R., 232 

Schiessl, M., 213 

Schmidt, F., 223 

Schumann, F., 218 

Scripture, E. W., 226 

Seailles, G., 21 

Sextus Empiricus, 29 

Shepard, J. F., 240 

Sherrington, C. S., 305 f . 

Smith, A., 65 n. 

Smith, T. L.. 237 

Smith, W. G., 227 

Sollier, P., 22, 250, 254 

Spencer, H., 14, 16, 118, 120, 
121-137, 143, 149, r68, 170-172, 
263, 270, 272, 278 ff., 283, 286, 
292, 301 n., 302 f . 

Spinoza, B., 203 

Stern, W., 232 / 

Stewart, D., 12 f ., 70 

Stoics, 28 

Stout, G. F., 20, 175, 213 
Strieker, S., 216 
Sully, J., ii6f., 175, 213 
Sutherland, A. H., 234 

Taine, H. A., 10, 16, 196-199, 

Tanner, A. E., 238 f . 
Tanzi, E., 235 
Tetens, J. N., 203 f. 
Thumb, A., 223 
Titchener, E. B., 27 n., 244 f . 
Tolman, E. C., 223 
Tourry, Marquis de la, 200 
Trautscholdt, M., 216, 247 f., 250 
Tucker, A., 6n., 65-67, 69, 98, 

264, 275, 279 

Ueberweg, 20 
Vives, L., 31, 274 

Wahle, R., 247 f . 
Ward, J., 175, 213, 242 
Weber, E. H., 211 
Wehrhn, 230 

Wells, F. L., 233 *-, 251, 255 
Wertheimer, M., 231 
Wimmer, A., 232 
Wohlgemuth, A., 245 
Wolff, J. C. von, 9 
Woodbridge, F. J. E., 281 n. 
Woodrow, H., 233 
Woodworth, R. S., 234 
Wreschner, A., 229, 232, 240, 

Wundt, W., 175, 212, 223 f ., 227, 
248 n. 

Yerkes, R., 232 
Yvon, C., 186 

Zanotti, Fr., 200 f . 
Zeno of Cittium, 29 
Ziehen, Th., 222, 224 


Affection, 94, 174, 299, 303 ff. 
After-sensation, 296 
Alternative associates, 73 
Apperception, 223 ff., 243 
Apprehension, 246 
A priori psychology, 9, n f., 119, 


Arithmetical processes, 239 
Assimilation, 225, 242 
Association (see Contiguity, 
Laws of association, etc.) 

alternative terms for, 6n., 40, 
70, 127, 149, 163, 170, 173, 
236, 242, 260, 275, 279 

classifications, 247-257 

definitions, 6 

experimental treatment, 213 ff. 

in animals, 221, 241 

in children, 222 

in criminals, 229 ff. 

in the feeble-minded, 229 ff. 

in the insane, 229 ff. 

nature, 258-261 
Association of ideas (term), 3, 

36, 149 
Association psychology, passim 

adverse influence, 213 f. 

applications, 176 

estimate of, 175 # 

historical stages, 15 f. 

problems, 250-265 

relation to philosophy, lof., 

Association tests, 229 ff. 
Attention, 37, 102, 201, 245, 285, 

preparatory, 221 
Attractive force, 201 
Awareness of movements, 301 

of relations, 281 

Behavior, 174, 300 
Belief, 59, 91 ff., icoff., no, 166, 

Causality, 43 *-, 102 


Chance association, w 
Chemical theory (see Mental 

Clearness, 245 
Coalescence of ideas, 49 
Coexistence (see Simultaneous 

Cognition, 124, 295 ff. 
Colored patterns, 227 
Composition, 39, 66 
Compound association, 108 
Conation, 299 ff., 302 
Conception, 90 
Conduct, 174, 300 
Conflict of ideas, 205, 211 
Consciousness, 153 
fringe of, 147, 297 
motor, 160, 300 ff. 
primitive, 122, 139 
unity of, 147 
Constitutional tendencies, 73, 


Contiguity, 4, 6, 7, 23, 27 f ., 30, 
33, 35, 37, 42 ff., 55, 72, 96 f., 
106, 126, 128, 145, 159, 171, 
185, 195, 197, 201, 204, 225, 
241 ff. 283 f ., 289 
Contrast, 4, 8, 27 f., 31, 72, 96, 

109, 209, 283 
Correlation, 242 

Data, elementary, 122, 139, 153, 


mental, 82, 238, 281, 288 
Decaying sensation, 34, 272, 296 
Decreasing gain, 129 
Discrimination, 105, 114, 281, 

282 n., 306 

Dispositions (see Traces) 
Distance perception, 58, 116, 157 
Dominant element, 117 
Double-aspect theory, 269 
Dreams, 62 
Drugs, 229 
Duration, 73, 285 f. 



Effort, 102, 301 n. 

Emotion, 60, 113, 133, 143, *47> 

237, 303 

Emotional congruity, 241 
Empirical method, 154, 213 ff.' 
Esthetics, 68 
Esthetic sentiment, 304 
Equivalence, principle of, 149 
Evolution concept, n8ff., 150, 

152, 168 
External association, 250 

Feeling, 192, 223, 300 
association of, 125, 278 
classes, 122 ff. 
logic of, 147 
registration of, 141 
relations of, 122 f., 127, 135, 


Fiat, 300 

Forms of experience, 177 
Free association, 215, 222, 228, 

233 f , 236 

Frequency, 8, 37, 60, 73, 76 f., 85, 
97, 129, 132, 134, 159, 185, 
193, 217, 220, 245, 250, 256, 
2815 ff. 

Functional psychology, 239 
Fundamental concepts, 291 
Fusion, 28, 36, 66 f., 79, 88, 116, 
173, 206, 264, 274, 279 

Grouping (see Logic) 

Habit, 36, 40 f., 76 f., 134, 159, 
192, 241, 244, 285 (see alsp 

Hedonic accompaniment, 37, 47, 
m 58, 285 ff., 304 

Higher mental states, 130 

Ideas, 4 f., 41, 43, 52, 139, 174 

abstract, 235 

complex, 38 

decomplex, 55 

duplex, 87 

general, 38 

genesis of, 53 

innate, 321., 118, 155 

of relations, 38, 78 
Ideation (term), 83, 294 

physiology of, 271 
Identity, 284 
Ideomotor experiences, 302 


Imagery, 139, 147, 295 * 
Imagination, 34, 40, 62, 7.6, 109 f ., 

. H7 

Imitation, 49 . 

Impressions, 43, 44 n., 192 
Impulse, 141, 299 f. 
Inconceivability, 149 
Individual differences, 240 

types, 223 

dissoluble association (see In- 

criticism of term, 98 
Inheritance, 134 
Inhibition, 240, 256 
Innervation feelings, 300 f . 
Inseparability, 48, 86, 97,' 100, 185 
Instincts, 130 f., 302. 
Integration, 206, 270 
Intellect, 149 

Intensity, 8, 73, 96, 185, 285 ff. 
Interactionism, 267 ff. 
Interest, 141 

Interference effect, 219, 240 
Internal association, 250 
Interoceptors, 305 
Interpretation of association, 

typical, 287 

Introspection, 140, 152, 172 
Intuition, 144, 151 
Intuition psychology, 9, 12 
Irradiation, 141, 144, 198 

James-Lange theory, 303 
Japanese script, 226 
Jost's Laws, 220 f. 
Judgment, 186 

Kent-Rosanoff tests, 233 
Knowledge, no 

Language, 148 
Lapsed links, 66, 98 
Laws of association, 241, 282- 
287, 289 

Ardigo's, 235 f. 

Aristotle's, 25 

Bain's, 106 

Beneke's, 209 

Brown's, 72, 163 

Darwin's, 69 

Hartley's, 53 

Hunter's, 246 

Maine de Biran's, 193 

J. Mill's, 84 f. 



J. S. Mill's, 96 

Pieron's, 246 

Primary, 72 

Qualitative, 282 ff. 

Quantitative, 285 ff., 289 

Secondary, 73, 80 

Spencer's, 129 
'Sully's, Ii6f. 

Taine's, 197 

Titchener's, 245 
Learning, methods of, 238 
Local signs, 211 
Logic (associative), 141, 143, 

147 ff., 173, 270, 276, 299 
Logical types, 250 

Matter, definition of, 199 

Meaning, 297, 299 

Mechanical theory, 87, US, 166, 

187, 262 

Mediate association, 225 ff. 
Mental chemistry, 49, 79, 88, 
98 f., 103, 136, 163, 165 f., 
179, 198, 264, 289, 293, 295, 

Mental diagnosis, 229 ff. 
faculties, 201 
forms, 127 
operations, 307 
tendencies, 208 

Memory, 24 ff., 29 ff ., 33 f ., 60 f ,, 
75, 90, 130, 147, 185, 190, 201, 

primary, 83 

Mind, 51, 133 

Modes of association, 66, 273- 


Moral sentiments, 304 
Motives, 113 

Motor association, 54, 56, 69, 237 
Motor phenomena, 52, 167, 192, 


Names, 89, 196, 297 

Nativism, 177 

Necessary connection, 44, 48, 274 

Nervous arc concept, 151 

Nervous shock, 122, 292 

Neural activity (see Physiol- 
ogy of association) 

Neural tremors, 140, 146, 173, 

Nonsense syllables, 217 ff,, 227, 
237, 245 

Notion, general, 14 
Not-self, 133 

Oblivescence, 98 
Organic motors, 143 

Pain sense, 303 

Parallelism, 51, 262, 267 ff. 

Parts of speech, 223, 234 

Part-whole relationship, 243 

Perception, 89, 146, 192, 199, 295 

Perseveration, 215, 232, 236, 240, 

Physiology of association, 32, 51, 
71, 114, 124, 135, 140 f., 145, 
158, 178, 188 f., 206, 210, 266- 
273,280,288,307 3 . 

Pleasure-pain (see Hedonic ac- 

Power, 102 

Practical effect, 229, 240 

Predication, 100 

Proprioceptprs, 306 

Psychophysical relation, 292, 307 

Psychoplasm, 140 

Quality, 146 

Reaction time, 215 f., 221, 222 f,, 

231 f., 240, 257 
Reason and instinct, 131 
Reasoning, 63, 66, 93, 160 
Recall and recognition, 219, 237 
Recency, 73, 220 f., 239, 241, 

285 ff. 

Recognition theory, 242 f. 
Redintegration (see Reinstate- 
Reflection, ideas of, 37, 47, 52, 65, 

93, 156 f., 184,298 
Reflex action, 130, 302 
Reinstatement, 8, 142, 150, 197, 

251, 284 

Remtegration (see Reinstate- 
Relations, association of, 125 

revival of, 126 

Relative suggestion, 77 ff., 279 
Relativity, 105 f., 135, 168 
Repetition (see Frequency) 
Resemblance (see Similarity) 
Resistance, feelings of, ill, 

301 n. 
Restriction, 141, 144 



Retention, 105, 217 
Revival, 72, 123 f ., 128, 135, 142, 
144, 170, 198, 279 f . 

Self, 132 f., 144 
Self-consciousness, 298 
Sensation, 34 
alimentary, 83 

association of, 45> 195, 277. 289 
decaying, 34, 272, 296 
laws of, 198 
of disorganization, 82 
psychology, 10 
systemic, 152 
Sensation psychology, 10, 34, 

IS'S, 184, 190, 238 
Senses, 57, 292, 303 
Sensibility, 141 

Sequence (see Successive asso- 
Signature, 141 
Signs, 41, 140, 147, ISO, 185, 196, 


local, 211 

Similarity, 4, 6, 7f, 23, 27 ff., 3*i 
33,37, 41, 43 #., 55, 72, 96f., 
107, 136, 171, 185, 195, 197, 
203, 209, 236, 241 ff., 244, 250, 

Simultaneous association, 7, 38, 
42, 45, 54, 56, 66, 125, 128, 
130, 156, 159, 164, 182, 202, 
200, 211, 221, 225, 242, 244 Sn 
256, 264, 273 ff, 282, 304, 300 
Social contract theory, 161 
Social phenomena, 139 
Source books, 18 
Space perception, 298 (see also 


Specific nerve energies, 210 
Statue, 183, 187 
Subject and object, n, 132 

Successive association, 7, 29, 41, 
54, 66, 71, 128, 136, 157, 159, 
164, 173 f-, 202, 209, 242, 244, 
250, 256, 273 ff, 283, 304, 306 

Suggestion, 40, 70, 77 ff., 163, 

Synthesis, law of, 235 (see also 
Mental chemistry) 

Systemic senses, 152 

Temperament, types of, 234 

Temporal proximity, 243 

Tendencies, mental, 208 

Testimony, psychology of, 232 

Tests, associative, 229 ff. 

Thought, 148, 160, 297 
laws of, 103, 149 
trains, 35, 66, 239, 298 

Traces, 35, 53, 209, 266 

Transformation, 179, 263, 293, 
306 (see also Mental chem- 

Types of association, 216, 223, 
234, 237, 239 

Unconscious associations, 223 
Understanding, 184, 194 
Utilitarianism, 48, 65 

Value, 299 

Verbal association, 58 f ., 208, 223 
Vestiges (see Traces) 
Vibrations, theory of, 50 ff., 68, 

158, 292 
Vividness, 85, 129, 185, 220, 241, 

Volition, 46, 60, 63, 93, m f ., 

132, 149, 168, 184, 194, 302 

Weber's Law, 122 
Will (see Volition) 
Woodworth-Wells tests, 234 

, 1800 , 1850 ( 19j 


, 1 





;, 1790 | 

umia, 1794 | 

f,N: Human M 

nd, 1820 | 




Analy&ls, 1829 | 

MILL; Logic, 1843 | Nc 

toe, 1869| 

BAIN: Son3oa-lnt,. 18f 

5 I I 1859, Foollng-WIII 

PENCER: Peychology, 18 

15 |- 1870 | 

MURPHY: Habit- 

Int. 1869 | 

LEWES: Prob! 

urns, 1875-7 I | 


V. G ALTON: Exf 

urimonta, 1879 1 

', Do I'amo 

y: Ido'ologie, 


Rapports, 1802 


'habitude^ 1802 


IERE: Eal, 1 


i , | 


VOYER: AMOC. dos ideoa 

1864 | 

TAINE: Dol'intollu 

once, 1870 1 


' 1800 ' 1850 ' 19(